Annual Report 2020
Piper Rodd – Chair Future Connect
Since our last AGM, held virtually for the first time ever, in a year of precedent-setting events, and extraordinary circumstances of pandemic living, I am pleased to report on the great progress and exciting innovations undertaken by Deirdre and her team. The past year has seen the organisation evolve and advance its purpose in exciting ways, positioning it well for a sustainable future. Diversifying Future Connect’s work done locally, and for the residents of the communities of Melton and Brimbank, offers greater opportunities to grow the organisation’s reach.
Over recent years, Future Connect, under Deirdre’s leadership, and with the dedicated work of Di, Lyndsay, Lea and Robin, has become an increasingly dynamic, multivariant, future focused organisation, embedding its reputation as part of the communities it serves. The organisation has done this by seeking to develop relationships with the people who live, work and learn in Brimbank and Melton. It has sought to better understand what local young people want for their futures, and how these visions are shaped by the realities of their lives in the suburbs of Brimbank and Melton. Building an ever-expanding repertoire of human relationships has meant the work done by Future Connect will not only be increasingly responsive to what people need but that it will endure, making a meaningful contribution to both the lives of individual young people and to the communities more generally. With the retirement of Robin last year, the addition of Alice to the team coincides with a shift in strategic direction promising new and exciting opportunities to engage in projects co-designed by and for the young people of Brimbank and Melton.
The work of community based and focussed organisations is of increasing importance to our society as precariousness, anxiety and uncertainty about the future permeates our lives. The sense of collective disconnect and the realities of challenging day-to-day life circumstances were laid bare last year, exacerbated by the global pandemic as the human limitations of our culturally conditioned singular focus on the economy became apparent. The meaning of community has taken on new significance after last year, as we appreciated human connectedness more and more, realising how imperative it is in every aspect of our lives. Throughout last year, Future Connect continued to provide information and opportunity to the young people within their shared communities. Creating these opportunities for sharing information and stories of lived experiences and aspirations is crucial work in our times.
Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the members of the board, Gail, Dan, Maree, Michael and Nadia, who have all contributed fantastic skill, diverse insight and a united passionate commitment to supporting and enhancing the growing organisation we are all proud to be working with, Future Connect. I look forward to the next year of working with and for this organisation and the young people of Brimbank and Melton.
Dr. Piper Rodd
Executive Officer's Report
2020 was a different (*understatement*) year to the one we had planned but as hard as it was, it gave us opportunities to learn new skills, practice new ways of connecting (zoom, anyone?) and practice using new words like ‘pivot’. It also gave me a chance to see the incredible dedication and commitment of the Future Connect team. Lea, Lyndsay, Di and Robin all showed their resilience and drive to support the young people of Brimbank and Melton.
Like most other people, we started 2020 optimistically and with plans for a Careers Expo, loads of SWL opportunities and plenty of action in our networks. We were organised and prepared and raring to go. Unfortunately, the careers expo and many SWL opportunities didn’t eventuate.
The year started with a fantastic All Girls Can event at AGA. The attendees talked about their enjoyment of the day and their pride in being part of an International Women’s Day event. They were confident about exploring different career options.
In late 2019 and early 2020, the Committee of Management worked on a new Governance structure and new Rules of Association. As chair, Rose Lewanski was again tireless in her willingness to do whatever was needed to run our first on-line AGM and welcome a new Board and form of governance.
The new Board came together in May and quickly formed effective and cohesive processes. It is inspiring to work with a dedicated group who bring disparate experiences and valuable insight into the work.
Prior to 2020, Melbourne’s West was already considered a ‘Hotspot’ for youth unemployment but once COVID hit it was clear that the young people of Brimbank and Melton have become even more vulnerable. It is imperative that Future Connect continues its valuable work. We are committed to the voices of young people guiding our direction.
The Board supported the engagement of Isobar Good to explore ways in which we can further embed co-design into the way we work. This work is underway in 2021.
This exciting new direction is only possible because of the existing relationships and networks already in place. The Careers Practitioners Network continued all through 2020 and continued to function to support those school staff working in the space.
You will see, in other areas of the Annual Report, the many on-line events and videos we hosted. We introduced Industry Webinars for both Hairdressing and Logistics and Lyndsay and Robin both ‘starred’ in one each. Future Connect also developed Career Chats and we were proud to be able to secure at least one speaker in all the VET Sectors offered by the cluster. This was needed to support the ‘Step Up’ programs in which a face-to-face induction was impossible in 2020. It was pleasing (and daunting!) to be asked by the VET Cluster to see if we could do this. Lyndsay worked very hard to make that happen.
Di Debrincat led a program providing Career Development learning to Trainers from CommUnity+. This was a ‘Train the Trainer’ model that was offered completely on-line. This was a challenge and Di was exacting in her efforts to provide word perfect videos.
Another highlight of 2020 was a project run by Robin Lockington that brought together industry leaders and schools to offer mock interviews based on Real Industry Job Interviews (RIJI) at the Jackson School. I heard so much feedback about the students and their preparedness for interview. This is a credit to the school and their long-standing commitment to raising expectations. Additionally, it is a signal of the community mindedness and community spirit shown by employers of young people in the west.
Future Connect also participated in Work Readiness programs at several schools. Di and Lyndsay worked together to develop a ‘suite’ of videos / PowerPoints and presentations that could be used to develop the skills of students in either face to face classes or remote learning environments. This requires true skill, agility and strong relationships.
We are very lucky to have talented consultants available who support the work of Future Connect. Quinn Li designs most of our graphics and is amazing to work with. Drew Harrison offers IT support and was called on to assist in more ways than expected. He even loaned IT equipment to staff who needed additional hardware to make their systems work at home. Tina Chronis, our Accountant and Rhonda Williams, our Bookkeeper are incredibly accurate and a joy to work with. We are lucky that our consultants are all able to explain in plain English!
I was personally touched by the generosity shown to us last year by employers. I can’t think of a time when anyone just said ‘no’ – whether it was a request to be interviewed (and have it recorded) about their career pathway, their experience in the industry they work in or their advice to young people about how to prepare themselves for work. It was truly gratifying to see that, in the face of a trauma that impacted so many people in Brimbank and Melton directly, people jumped at the chance to help.
Pre-accredited Employment Programs-Capacity and Innovation Fund Project – Future Connect and commUnity+
During 2020, commUnity+ and Future Connect collaborated to prepare Pre-accredited employment focused education and training programs to support community members and young people seeking employment. The Adult, Community and Further Education Board Capacity and Innovation Fund project, supported by the State Government of Victoria, focused on the barriers diverse community members encounter when pursuing education and employment.
Based on the Career Development Cycle, the Pre-accredited employment focused education and training programs included:
· Developing Your Career
· Applying for Employment
· Preparing for Interviews
· Transitioning to Employment
· Balancing Career and Caring
· Advancing Your Career
Further, during COVID in 2020, Future Connect prepared a series of online professional development sessions to equip teachers with the necessary content, expertise, and skills to deliver the programs. Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, the sessions were engaging and informative.
A career pathway is an important aspect in anyone’s life journey. Learning and understanding how to navigate one’s career development and pathway options can mean a more fulfilling journey.
For Future Connect, it was a pleasure to be part of a project that helped individuals at commUnity+ become accustomed to the Career Development Cycle and empowered to apply for local employment.
Future Connect’s thanks are extended to Craig Liddell, commUnity+ General Manager – Education, and Sandra Sandra, commUnity+ Project Officer, who collaborated with Di Debrincat, Future Connect Workplace Project Officer, on the project.
Virtual Industry Tour - Logistics
To assist young people to become Work Ready, Future Connect embarked on providing real life workplace experiences for young people in the Brimbank/Melton area. Future Connect identified the Logistics Industry area as a growth industry in the West of Melbourne. In partnership with local Logistic Industry members and secondary schools, visits to Logistic Industry sites were organised through Future Connect in 2019. Young people were able to personally meet and hear from employees in the area about their career stories and see firsthand the magnitude and variety of career opportunities that existed in the Logistic industry area.
This initiative was highly valued by our industry partners and the young people that participated in the program. The COVID lockdown in 2020 lead to Future Connect refocusing on how to provide these work ready experiences for young people. In 2020 Future Connect partnered with DSV Air & Sea Logistics to provide a Virtual Webinar Industry Tour of the DSV site at Sydney airport. This allowed young people in secondary schools, through their remote learning program to be involved in the experience. DSV is a multinational logistics company. Through the Virtual Tour young people met a variety of employees from all aspects of the company from the Managing director-Aus/NZ to the freight floor people and viewed their workplace. They heard the employee’s stories of their career pathway journey and had the opportunity to submit questions in a Q&A session at the conclusion of the virtual tour.
The webinar can be viewed at www.futureconnect.org.au/webinars-2
Online Work Readiness Program – Jackson School
In 2020 Future Connect delivered the first Work Readiness Program online with the Jackson School. The new Work Readiness Program, uses the framework and model of the Jobs for Youth Real Industry Interview Program (RIJI) to prepare young people with the tools, knowledge, and confidence to take those first steps into paid employment. The program incorporates workshops on resume and cover letter writing, interview skills and brings it all together in a mock interview.
The delivery of this program was a highlight for Future Connect as well as our industry partners who assisted with the interviews. We were so impressed with the great work by all students! The staff at Jackson School did a great job to facilitate the classes and online delivery. Vu Nguyen, Classroom Teacher at Jackson School has shared his experience on the program below:
The Jackson VCAL Team found the Work Readiness program beneficial to all year 11/ 12 students. It was age appropriate, accessible and involves life skills so has real purpose. Students were able to participate at their level with appropriate support, while continuing to further develop the skills required to enter the workforce successfully.
Learning to write resumes, job applications and communicate via email are skills that the students will continue to build when they leave school.
The interviews were professional, encouraging and very flexible which made the process a success and feedback students received was invaluable for future reference.
A program set up for the Western Suburbs would be an asset to an already invaluable resource.
Based on the positive feedback and experience the Work Readiness Program was offered to other schools across Brimbank and Melton. Facilitating online was all new to us, but it was great to be able to connect and still be able to add value, share our knowledge and experience in these areas. We also used the workshops to share interviews with local business owners about their advice for young people applying for a job, what to do when you don’t have any experience and the importance of just being yourself!!
We really look forward to seeing how the Work Readiness Workshops evolve in 2021!
VET Research Project
All Girls Can – Try A Trade Day
On March 6 2020 Future Connect facilitated the very first All Girls Can – Try a Trade Day at the AGA Trade Training Centre in Derrimut.
All Girls Can – Try a Trade Day was for girls who:
- Are in year 10 in 2020; and
- Know that a career in one of the trade areas is for them; or
- Have shown a strong interest in pursuing a trade and may not get the full benefit of the AGA Open
- Day e.g. may not get involved in activities; or
- Have shown ability, skill or interest in trade and do not know what the next steps are.
This strategically focused event was organised to help remove some of the barriers some girls may feel about pursuing a non-traditional career in trade.
The full day event started with a round robin rotation through four trades, including automotive, electrical, carpentry and plumbing. Each activity was hands on allowing many girls to pick up a tool for the very first time.
During the lunch break a Showcase event was held that included a number of organisations across different trades, suppliers, and pathway and apprenticeship support networks. Girls visited each stand and asked the organisation a series of questions in order to get their trade passport stamped. This was a great opportunity for the girls to find out more about how organisations support women in trade.
The afternoon session was a panel style Q&A session with a group of amazing women working in trade or male dominated industries. All of our panel members were strong advocates for women in trade and doing a great job to break the male/female stereotypes.
It was a great day that inspired a group of girls who now know that if they want to pursue a career in trade they can and there are many people and organisations to support them along the way. Hopefully, this is the first of many All Girls Can events to come.
Future Connect is extremely grateful for the hard work and support of everyone who helped bring the event together, it was great to work with such supportive and enthusiastic people who are also wanting to break the mould!
A special thank you goes to our panel members who gave up their own time to be part of the day, without them we would not have been able to deliver such a great event.
This event was a success thanks to:
- AGA Staff and Students for hosting the event and coordinating the hands-on activities
- Bunnings Caroline Springs
- Master Plumber
- Tradeswomen Australi
- Australian Apprenticeship Support Networ
- AGA Field Officers
Our Amazing Panellists:
- Stefanie Apostolidis, Carpenter and creator of Tradie Lady Club @tlcbymc
- Beth Moresi, Carpenter @bethbuild
- Izzy Silvey, Health and Safety Advisor within the transport industry and one half of the DIY and reno duo @thehousethathessbuil
- Kimberly Smyth owner of @heysistaplumbin
- Emily Waras, Electrician @emilywaras
In 2020 Future Connect took its first steps into the world of webinars!
As much as we absolutely love to present to students in our local area in person, 2020 made that impossible, so we had to think of different ways to connect. Not just connect, but to create valuable links between young people and industry. To help remove some of the barriers 2020 has created and provide students with insights into career pathways across different industries.
From there Industry Conversations was born!!
Future Connect ran the first Industry Conversations webinar discussing all things hairdressing. The session was created for students completing the Certificate II in Salon Assistant, as well as students who think that a career in hairdressing might be for them. We discussed everything from what an average day looks like when completing SWL to what employers are looking for when hiring an apprentice and everything in between.
The event was a huge success thanks to our amazing panellists:
- Prue, owner of Lady and the Hair
- Megan, owner of Satori Hair
- Brylee, First Year Stylist at Lady and the Hair
A huge thank you for being so generous with your time, knowledge, experience and for supporting young people in the industry.
Video Career Chats
To support the new VET students for 2021 who would normally attend their VET Orientation onsite, Future Connect coordinated a series of Video Career Chats with representatives from almost all VET Qualification options. We spoke to everyone from Plumbers, Electricians, Hairdressers, Beauty to Allied Health. It was a great opportunity to hear from some amazing people and the journey their careers have taken them on.
It was also great to support our local VET Clusters and help to overcome the obstacles of 2020. These videos were shared with all VET classes and hopefully enhanced their online orientation experience. The videos are also available on the Future Connect website under FC Online/Career Chats.
A big thank you to the following people for participating in the Future Connect Career Chats:
- Sharon – Bianco for Beauty
- Rachel - Linear Hair
- Mollie Roberts – Brotherhood of St. Lawrence
- Adrian Sposato – Sweeny Real Estate, Caroline Springs
- Brad Warton – Monkey Business, Dromana
- Mark Freyer – AGA
- Frank Stella – AGA
- David Borg – AGA
- Geoff Lanyon – AGA
- Scott Bradburn – IT
- Elise Muller – Sport & Recreation
Future Connect App
In 2020 Future Connect developed an app specifically designed for young people which covers everything from career exploration, further education, advice on entering the workforce, financial and agency support and much more.
The app features:
Local Resources: Students will find all the answers and connections needed to get started on their journey as a school leaver.
Covering all the options: Heading for further study? An apprenticeship or full-time employment? Whatever your pathway the app has you covered.
Careers Info 24-7: It’s like having a careers teacher at your fingertips.
The app is not just for school leavers. It’s filled with important information for young people taking their first steps into casual employment.
The app is written and specifically for young people and is 100% free.
The Future Connect App has been really well received by all stakeholders and is a great live source of information for young people.
Structured Workplace Learning (SWL)
Structured Workplace Learning was off to a great start in 2020. We completed SWL and Work Readiness presentations at a number of local schools, our new SWL team was only formed late 2019 and were meeting with our existing employers and connecting with new business who would like to offer a SWL placement. Term 1 started and the influx of student requests began, we worked hard to coordinate and connect students with placements opportunities. Then March arrived and the world as we knew it changed! From March onwards we had to think outside the box as to how we could support our local students, this is what lead to the development of some great webinars and online resources that not only helped students in 2020 but will also benefit future students.