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Indigenous Employment and Training

While disparity in the workplace between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australian’s is on the decline, statistics indicate significant inequalities continue to exist in both the workforce and society. In “Positive Dreaming, Solid Futures” by the Queensland Government, the unemployment rate for Indigenous Australians was found to be nearly three times higher than the rest of the population.

With our National Skills Shortage on the rise and the Government providing incentives to take on apprentices, now is the time to look at ways to entice members of under represented community groups into your organisation. So what are some of the considerations to make when developing an Indigenous Employment Strategy (IES)?

Mark Reid of Smashcare is one of several employers partaking in the program. Not only is Mr Reid committed to taking onboard Indigenous Apprentices, he has been instrumental in sourcing opportunities within the automotive industry for disadvantaged youth. Working closely with BUSY At Work Indigenous Employment Solutions Mark is passionate about seeing apprentices achieve and advises employers of how to manage apprentices from troubled backgrounds. Mr Reid says mentoring is important and family/peer support plays a major role in their achievement. BUSY At Work has dedicated team of Indigenous Mentors working on the program assisting employers and apprentices throughout their journey. The mentoring plan is negotiated with the employer and apprentice and uses a combination of face to face, telephone and sms messaging.

“We have set up a mothers group as we know that what goes on behind the scenes plays a major role in their chance of success, and I don’t take on apprentices until I meet their support person as it’s important to know there is someone at home backing them,” he says.

Mr Reid goes further to say that it is not just about putting Indigenous staff into jobs but it’s about generational change and wider social benefit.

“One of the apprentice’s in the program belongs to a six kid family and their mother is proud because their younger siblings look up to them and see a future for themselves,” he says.

From stories of apprentices in single parent family’s contributing to the household with their apprentice wage, to kids on probation staying out of jail, it is clear that employing Indigenous Apprentices has great social and economic benefit to Australia.

There are currently four apprentices pending charges, not going to jail as a result of their apprenticeships. Kids on probation can tell their officer they are employed and that they are signed up as an apprentice which keeps them out of trouble,” he says.

For employers looking to develop an Indigenous Employment Strategy (IES), the following recruitment practices have been researched and presented by the Australian Government and are a great resource to guide your IES (click here to read the full document).

Good recruitment practices:

Many Indigenous Australians find out about employment opportunities through word of mouth, reputation or referral rather than through the Gazette or national newspapers. Tapping into the ways that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people find out information can increase agency contact with potential Indigenous applicants.

Advertise a variety of positions, not only positions dealing with service delivery to Indigenous communities, through Indigenous media such as Indigenous newspapers the Koori Mail, National Indigenous Times, The Torres News. The National Indigenous Radio Service and regional Indigenous radio stations are also effective ways to tap into specific audiences.

Provide recruitment information to Indigenous community organisations, as well as Indigenous support units at education institutions and Indigenous Coordination Centres.

Display eye-catching, poster-size advertisements with an Indigenous focus, e.g. using identifiable Indigenous art styles.

Make sure all job ads are written in inclusive plain English designed to attract a wide pool of suitable applicants. Avoid jargon, bureaucratic language or terms that are not familiar to the general public.

Include the tag line ‘Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are encouraged to apply’ in all advertised positions.

Be prepared to be flexible about application periods. In some cases confining yourself to two weeks may restrict your pool of potential applicants.

If you require advice on Indigenous employment, call BUSY At Work Indigenous Employment Services on: 13 BUSY (13 2879) and one of our consultants can discuss the best approach for your business

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