A new work experience program that launched in the Moreton Bay Region aims to bridge the gap between virtual and real-world experience.
Mayor Peter Flannery says the My Future In Moreton Bay program is an Australian first for local government and is designed to give future employees an advantage in the workforce and provide them with suitable skills to have a long-term career in the region, while addressing workforce supply shortages.
“Moreton Bay Region’s economy is growing quickly but one of the lasting legacies of COVID has been the shortage of skilled workers in the labour market across Australia,” he says.
“Local industries have told us that it’s difficult to source and retain skilled workers, so we’ve responded by creating a local government-first online simulator designed to give high school students (Year 10-12) a taste of the workforce before they start their careers.
“While it’s targeted at students, it will also be free to all Moreton Bay residents to use and we’ll be providing it to Workforce Australia agencies to roll out with their clients.”
Speaking as part of a panel at the launch at Bray Park State High School last Thursday, My Berries co-founder Allison McGruddy said finding skilled people was a challenge.
“In essence we have people who are untrained and we’re having to train them from the get-go and I think these are real-time modules that provide benefit to employers,” Allison said.
“When I look at some of these modules, I think ‘wow I wish we had people that entered our front door having completed such things as quality control and machine operations’.”
Bray Park State High School principal Peter Turner encouraged employees across the region to be open to providing opportunities for young people.
“There’s a big demand for people at the moment,” he says.
“It’s exciting for young people and work experience does give kids the opportunity to see and try before they can be.
“They are green, they are inexperienced, they need to learn the skills but students, if they take those opportunities, they might learn about what they want to do in their careers - but they might also learn that’s not what they want to do.”
Attractive for employees
Moreton Bay Chief Economic Development Officer Paul Martins says the program is aimed at all jobseekers, not just students.
|“We’re hoping that might help bridge that gap between virtual and real-world experience,” he says.|
“We’re hoping that if they show up and they knock on the door and say ‘can I now have some work experience - I’ve done an operations module?’ (employers) will go ‘you’ve invested time, yes I will give you a go’.”
Mayor Flannery says council is committed to creating 100,000 new jobs and 16,000 new businesses by 2041 through its regional Economic Development Strategy (REDS).
“We’ve created 10 modules covering 10 priority industries that were identified by Council as being key to Moreton Bay’s growing economy, including Advanced Manufacturing; Food and Agribusiness; Tourism, Sport and Major Events; and Innovation and Entrepreneurship businesses.
“Students across eight pilot schools can access these bite-sized modules to experience what it’s actually like to perform those jobs in a real-life setting.
|“By providing this option to students, we hope to make that transition into the workforce as smooth as possible and help unearth the next entrepreneurs in those industries.”|
Mayor Flannery says the program was developed in partnership with The Forage - a national leader in virtual work experience programs.
“We hope to have over 3000 enrolments in the virtual career experience program by the end of 2024.”
Each module takes about one or two hours to complete online, making it easy for schools to implement in career development classes and curriculums, Mayor Flannery says.
On completion, participants receive a digital certificate, which Council hopes will become widely recognised by businesses.
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