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In-Person and Live-Streamed

Engaging young people and collaborating across sectors to create pathways to employment

27-29 July 2021 | Sydney

Young people across Australia have been the most significantly impacted demographic by the COVID-19 pandemic, with unemployment rates almost double that of the general population. Whilst recovery from the pandemic has begun in the job market, youth employment has been slower to rebound 


There has never been a more urgent need for sectors across Australia to come together and solve this persistent challenge. It is essential to provide young people with career plans and strategies to equip them with resilience, transferrable skills and end-to-end support required to navigate a rapidly changing and highly competitive job market. It’s also critical to increase the accessibility to career guidance, apprenticeships and flexible pathways to employment. 


Akolade’s 7th National Youth Employment Forum will address key challenges to upskilling young people, increasing their employability and collaborating across sectors to create job opportunities and career pathways. Delegates will also gain tools and strategies to drive engagement amongst studentsdevelop early intervention models, support vulnerable and at-risk youth and create effective partnerships across sectors to increase youth employment in Australia.

Drive engagement amongst young people through student-centric career planning strategies 

Equip young people with the skills and training required to compete and thrive in the job market 

Collaborate across the public, notforprofit and education sectors to connect young people with apprenticeships and meaningful employment 

Tackle the barriers to employment for vulnerable and at-risk youth 

Codesign policy that ensures pathways to sustainable employment for young people 


Julia Ryan

Director Office for Regional Youth
Department for Regional NSW

The Hon Luke Howarth MP

Assistant Minister for Youth and Education
Parliament of Queensland

Melinda Crole

Chief Executive Officer
YMCA Australia

Phillip Heath

Head of School
Barker College

Dr Tony Mordini

Melbourne High School

Dominic Teakle

Chief Executive Officer

Hang Vo

Chief Executive Officer

Kate Munro

Chief Executive Officer
Youth Action

Marcus Watson

Social Enterprise Manager

Ron Maxwell

Chief Executive Officer

Susannah Le Bron

Chief Executive Officer

Allan Sumner

Chief Executive Officer
Aboriginal Sobriety Group

Tessa Paisley

Acting Program Manager
Aboriginal Sobriety Group

Shaun Cumming

Director Aboriginal Economic Wellbeing
NSW Treasury

Tracey Kelly

Chief Executive Officer
Murrylands Training and Employment Association of South Australia

Andrew McCarthy

Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director
Victorian Group Training

Paul Ingwersen

Chief Executive Officer

Andy Skidmore

Chief Executive Officer
Burn Bright

Allegra Spender

Chief Executive Officer
The Australian Business and Community Network (ABCN)

Angela White

Head of Operations and Programs
One Eighty

Kylie van Luyn

Director Employment Services
Settlement Services International (SSI)

Katherine Ellis

Chief Executive Officer
Youth Affairs Council Victoria (YACVic)

Superintendent Mark Wall

Youth and Crime Prevention Commander
NSW Police Force

Dr Justin Barker

Executive Director
Youth Coalition of the ACT

Kathryn Taylor

Owner and Director
Turning Point Consulting and Wellbeing Australia

Jayden Parsons

Y Careers Project Support Coordinator
YMCA Australia

Melanie de Wild-Timmerman

Education Officer Pathways and Partnerships/RTO
Catholic Schools Broken Hills


8:00 AM | Registration opens 


8:50 AM | Opening remarks from the Chair 

Allegra Spender, Chief Executive Officer, The Australian Business and Community Network (ABCN) 


Driving engagement amongst young people through student-centric career planning strategies 


9:00 AM | Keynote Session: The impacts of service system responses, and a global pandemic, on vulnerable children and young people

  • Creating vocational pathways as part of a skills-led economic recovery
  • Incentivising businesses to hire and upskill young graduates
  • Increasing the opportunities for young people to gain hands on, practical skills training
  • Equipping young people with the means to take on training in skilled roles to lead to quality employment

The Hon Luke Howarth MP, Assistant Minister for Skills and Education, Parliament of Queensland


9:30 AM | Creating programs that engage and re-engage students 

  • Tackling student disengagement as a critical barrier to future employability 
  • Establishing engagement by connecting curriculum with its practical relevance in future employment 
  • Effectively conducting risk assessments to identify students at high risk of disengagement 
  • Acknowledging the diverse barriers to engagement and tailoring appropriate responses 

Phillip Heath, Head of School, Barker College 


10:00 AM | Case Study: Creating successful apprenticeships and traineeships as a career start   

  •  Positioning apprenticeships and traineeships to increase young peoples’ access to quality jobs 
  • Outlining the preparation, support and external relationships required for successful apprenticeships and traineeships 
  • How group training organisations can achieve above average apprenticeship completion rates 
  • Highlighting the barriers to attracting and retaining apprentices   

Paul Ingwerson, Chief Executive Officer, Kestrel Recruitment 


10:30 AM | Morning refreshments


11:00 AM | Panel discussion: A look at what the states are doing to address youth employment 

  • Examining policy responses and their effectiveness across Australia 
  • A look at youth engagement and how economies are managing the transition between school and work 
  • Discussing active labour market programs and their employment outcomes 

Kate Munro, Chief Executive Officer, Youth Action 
Katherine Ellis, Chief Executive Officer, Youth Affairs Council Victoria (YACVic) 
Justin Barker, Executive Director, Youth Coalition of the ACT 


11:50 AM | Case Study: Working with vulnerable and at-risk youth through wraparound support 

  • Helping at-risk youth gain employment through the incremental and individualised change model 
  • Addressing the multiple and compounded barriers to employment for vulnerable youth, including homelessness and the criminal justice system 
  • Engaging widely with communities to embed vulnerable young people into communities 

Marcus Watson, Social Enterprise Manager, Backtrack 


12:20 PM | More Than Marks – A holistic approach to building the workforce of the future

  • Understanding the value and importance of an education model that focuses on developing the whole person
  • Exploring some of the ways that Melbourne High School prepares its students for employment through a curriculum that includes a broader focus on human skills, syndicated learning, peer leadership, alumni mentoring and partnerships

Dr Toni MordiniPrincipal, Melbourne High School 


12:50 PM | Networking Luncheon


Equipping young people with the essential skills and training to stay competitive and thrive in the job market 


1:50 PM | Case Study: You can’t be what you can’t see – mentoring for employment outcomes 

  • How positive role models create life changing opportunities for youth at risk 
  • Structured mentoring for employment outcomes 
  • Addressing non-vocational barriers to employment 
  • Partnering with corporates and employers 

Hang Vo, Chief Executive Officer, Whitelion 


2:20 PM | Tackling drug and alcohol use as a barrier to employment 

  • Working with young people to address challenges to personal health and wellbeing 
  • Increasing the accessibility of drug and alcohol support services to young people 
  • Providing aftercare support to help youth to integrate back into society after more drastic interventions 

Allan Sumner, Chief Executive Officer, Aboriginal Sobriety Group 
Tessa Paisley, Acting Program Manager, Aboriginal Sobriety Group


2:50 PM | Addressing mental health challenges through wraparound support for increased resilience and self-esteem 

  • Proactively mitigating the impacts of the joblessness crisis on youth mental health 
  • Tailoring wraparound support to boost youth resilience and self-esteem 
  • Strategies to enable young people to look after themselves and take care of their wellbeing 

Andy Skidmore, Chief Executive Officer, Burn Bright 


3:20 PM |  Afternoon refreshments 


3:50 PM | Case Study: Creating sustainable and meaningful employment for young people with refugee and migrant backgrounds 

  • Empowering young people with the ability to navigate the cultural and language barriers of entering the Australian workforce 
  • Enabling young people to develop and establish a professional network
  • Examining case studies that demonstrate ways of creating new pathways into work for young people 

Kylie van LuynDirector Employment Services, Settlement Services International (SSI) 


4:20 PM | Case Study: Mental health as a critical factor in boosting resilience and adaptability in a post-COVID-19 workforce 

  • Developing peertopeer support models to boost connectedness and wellbeing 
  • Supporting young people with mental ill health with entering the workforce 
  • Destigmatising the impact of mental illness on youth employment 

Angela White, Head of Operations and Programs, One Eighty 


4:50 PM | Addressing youth homelessness as a barrier to employability 

  • Helping homeless young people overcome challenges to living independently and increasing their employability 
  • Outlining evidence-based ways to support vulnerable and marginalised youth 

Dr Justin Barker, Executive Director, Youth Coalition of the ACT


5:20 PM | Closing remarks from the Chair and end of day one 

8:00 AM | Registration opens 


9:00 AM | Opening remarks from the Chair 

Kate Munro, Chief Executive Officer, Youth Action 


Creating job opportunities and pathways for young people 


9:10 AM | Providing a coordinated and strategic approach to respond to regional youth employment 

  • Ensuring young people’s voices are heard and influence regional youth initiatives 
  • Driving youth wellbeing, connectivity and work readiness 
  • Creating opportunities for young people to learn, work and achieve in regional NSW 

Julia Ryan, Director Office for Regional Youth, Department of Regional NSW


9:40 AM | The future of work and what that means for young people entering the workforce  

  • Understanding what the COVID-19 pandemic means for the future of work for young people 
  • Equipping young people with the skills to work across multiple employers and roles 
  • Effectively engaging young people in discussions about career planning strategies  

Melinda Crole, Chief Executive Officer, YMCA Australia 

Jayden Parsons, Y Careers Project Support Coordinator, YMCA Australia


10:10 AM | Supporting young Indigenous people in the workforce to improve retention rates 

  • Outlining the obstacles faced by Indigenous young people whilst transitioning to the job market 
  • Supporting all aspects of Indigenous social and emotional wellbeing 
  • Increasing access, retention and completion of vocational education and training 

Shaun Cumming, Director Aboriginal Economic Wellbeing, NSW Treasury


10:40 AM | Morning refreshments


11:10 AM | Panel discussion: Building up young peoples’ ability to sustain employment through effective post-placement support 

  • Ensuring that young people successfully transition into work 
  • Understanding the supports that young people require to maintain employment and successfully complete internships and apprenticeships 
  • Preventing recently unemployed youth from reentering the welfare system 

Melinda Crole, Chief Executive Officer, YMCA Australia 
Allegra Spender, Chief Executive Officer, The Australian Business and Community Network (ABCN) 
Tracey Kelly, Chief Executive Officer, Murrylands Training and Employment Association 
Ron Maxwell, Chief Executive Officer, Verto
Susannah Le Bron, Chief Executive Officer,YMCA NSW 


12:00 PM | Creating post-graduation career pathways for young people with disabilities 

  • Outlining the barriers to employment for young people with disabilities 
  • Tailoring job-search and job-site training for young people with disabilities 
  • Developing the skills of young people with disabilities to effectively gain and sustain education 

Ron Maxwell, Chief Executive Officer, Verto 


12:30 PM | Exploring flexible pathways to education and on the job learning for disengaged students 

  • Combining school-based learning with work-based training and apprenticeship 
  • Enabling learners to move within education, training and employment 
  • Adapting learning pathways to suit the interests and needs of students 

Andrew McCarthy, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director, Victorian Group Training 


1:00 PM | Networking Luncheon 


2:00 PM | Expanding the demand side of the youth employment equation

  • Exploring alternate pathways to job opportunities for young people
  • Considering the potential for youth entrepreneurship to create jobs for young people in urban and rural Australia 
  • Engaging employers as champions of youth employment

Katherine Ellis, Chief Executive Officer, Youth Affairs Council Victoria (YACVic)


Collaborating across sectors to connect young people with meaningful employment 


2:30 PM | Collaborating with young people to ensure youth-centric policy design 

  • Engaging with young people to co-design policy 
  • Shaping the conversation on issues affecting young people and youth services 
  • Enhancing the capacity and capability of young people and youth services 

Kate Munro, Chief Executive Officer, Youth Action


3:00 PM | Case Study: The fit for work program – Engaging youth to educate, inspire and empower them into the workforce

  • Reducing young people’s involvement in antisocial and criminal behaviours
  • Equipping young people with the skills and qualifications that enable them to move into sustainable employment
  • Connecting disengaged young people with job opportunities and traineeships

Dominic Teakle, Chief Executive Officer, PCYC NSW
Superintendent Mark Wall, Youth and Crime Prevention Commander, NSW Police Force  


3:30 PM | Afternoon Refreshments


4:00 PM | Case Study: Building successful cross-sector partnerships   

  • Leveraging shared synergies and goals to help connect youth with job placements  
  • Collaborating across sectors to match skills with opportunities  
  • Partnering with employers and industries to create additional employment pathways  
  • Building a network of partnerships across sectors   

Allegra Spender, Chief Executive Officer, The Australian Business and Community Network (ABCN) 


4:30 PM | Case Study: Creating pathways for employment in geographically isolated areas  

  • Examining the opportunities and challenges of the future of work for regional Australia  
  • Retaining young people in regional areas to boost community development 
  • Boosting access to allied supports and information about post-education options for students in remote areas  
  • Overcoming inaccessibility of transport as a barrier to employment  

Tracey Kelly, Chief Executive Officer, Murrylands Training and Employment Association 


5:00 PM | Closing remarks from the chair and end of day two 

9:00 – 12:00 | Workshop A  : Equipping young people with the skills to navigate the future of work  

The past year has seen the workplace and employment market change like never before. Global disruption dramatically changed the ways in which we work, and this will have ongoing implications for young people across Australia. Young people will need to value and be empowered to utilise the skills that will support them in navigating an agile and competitive job market. Additionally, they will need to build up their wellbeing, self-confidence and resilience to cope with unknown and ongoing challenges.


This collaborative workshop will give participants a hands-on opportunity to uncover and debate the skills that will be essential in the workplaces of the future, ultimately supporting youth in creating holistic wellbeing whilst transitioning effectively into the workforce. 


Attendees to this workshop will learn how to: 

  •  Understand what the impacts of the past year, including the pandemic, means for the future of work 
  • Empower students in identifying transferrable skills like problem solving, communication and teamwork 
  • Prepare young people with the skills to navigate job search, recruitment and induction in the digital influence on hiring processes 
  • Help young people to achieve holistic wellbeing, embracing learning, work flexibly and meet work demands whilst also developing their sense of self 

Kathryn Taylor, Owner and Director, Turning Point Consulting, and Director, Wellbeing Australia 


1:00 – 4:00 PM | Workshop B  : Developing youth-centric career development and planning 

Young people are increasingly graduating into a workforce in which creating sustainable and meaningful jobs is increasingly complex. There has never been a more urgent and critical need for career planning services that place young people at the center of their plan and are tailored to suit their individual needs, aspirations and goals 

Effective, quality career guidance that drives motivated, informed and practical career choices will be the key to ensuring that young people acquire sustainable and meaningful employment. 


This interactive workshop will provide participants with the opportunity learn how to: 

  • Develop career planning strategies with students at the centre
  • Prepare students with the skills and resilience to navigate difficult transitions to successfully complete programs or choose suitable alternatives 
  • Effectively engage students in discussions about career planning strategies 
  • Align strategies on career planning with individual student strengths and weaknesses  



Melanie de Wild – Timmerman, Education Officer: Pathways and Partnerships/RTO, Catholic Schools Broken Hills 


Early bird discount

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Team discount 

Register 3-4 delegates and receive an additional 10% DISCOUNT off the current price
Register 5-7 delegates and receive an additional 15% DISCOUNT off the current price
Register 8 or more delegates and receive an additional 20% DISCOUNT off the current price

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Phone: +612 9247 6000

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