Employability skills a top priority for troubled youth

A SMALL southern Tasmanian program that addresses the youth unemployment rate has been granted a stay of execution by the State Government.

TroubleSmiths was launched in September last year by Impact Communities as the social enterprise for the Youth Entrepreneurial Services (YES) program that has been operating since 2017 with the help of pilot funding from the Federal Department of Jobs and Small Businesses.

This pilot funding ceased on 25 May before the State Government intervened with emergency funding of $75,000 to see the program through until October this year.

“We are very grateful to the State Government, who, along with a co-contribution from our parent company Workskills Inc, have contributed enough funds for us to continue while we continue to fight for continued funding at a federal level,” Impact Communities manager Mark Boonstra said.

“This will allow us to work with another 24 young people.”

TroubleSmiths is a social enterprise that is aimed at providing the skill development for people between the age of 15 and 24 who are at risk of long-term unemployment.

Impact Communities operations manager Bonnie Tuttle said it helped young people overcome challenges and gain the employability skills they needed to make a contribution to the community, with 99 Tasmanians having been assisted since it commenced.

“It helps with experience because it actually gives young people that work experience rather than doing just academic based theory,” she said.

“Sometimes they might complete the program and still not have a job, but that doesn’t mean they’re not streets ahead compared to where they were when they started the program – we’re aiming to get people forward on that ladder of life.”

Ms Tuttle said the funding would allow the TroubleSmiths enterprise to open a retail shop at 106 Murray Street to continue working with disadvantaged youth.

“This is the next step for us to really give the opportunity to young people to showcase themselves,” she said.

Previous participant of the YES program Victoria Jarvis said she had developed a number of skills that were going to be useful for the workplace, and had been given the experience to add to her resume.

“Before the program I had barely any qualifications, but through it I ended up getting my L1s and my responsible service of alcohol, which is something I would not have done on my own,” she said.

“With the program I had the confidence to actually get these qualifications, I had the support to go and achieve my goals.”

Ms Jarvis said the support from the program coaches was amazing in helping her set goals and encouraged anyone struggling to find a job to join up.

“I’ve made lovely friends here and it helps build confidence – I’ve got so much confidence from being in the program,” she said.

Twenty-year-old Thanachot Hesketh recently joined the TroubleSmiths program after being in rehab for the past three years.

“I want to be able to start walking on the right track, but I also want to start doing something that’s going to benefit me for work,” he said.

Wanting to find work as a labourer or chef, Mr Hesketh said he was excited for the program to help him learn new things and expand his horizons.

“I’m keen that it’s not only to work on your strengths, but also to work on your weaknesses, that way you’ve got a more versatile skill level set, and more opportunity to do different work,” he said.

For more information on TroubleSmiths, visit troublesmiths.com.

Caption: Past participant of the YES program Victoria Jarvis, left, and new TroubleSmiths participant Thanachot Hesketh.