Empowering job seekers through work experience

MORE than 250 Tasmanians who previously faced barriers to employment can now give back to their community thanks to Hamlet Café’s achievement of providing 20,000 hours of work experience to disadvantaged individuals.

Hamlet’s work experience program helps those struggling to find employment by providing a way for them to gain experience and confidence.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Tasmania has an unemployment rate of 6.2 per cent, which is among the highest in Australia.

Many people are disadvantaged when seeking employment due to barriers caused by factors including social, cultural, language or intellectual situations.

“I think the work that we’re doing here is really important because obviously unemployment is a big issue in the state,” Hamlet chief executive officer Emily Briffa said.

“People are gaining basic work-ready skills but they’re also increasing their confidence, so they actually feel comfortable to go out and seek employment opportunities.”

Liberal Member for Clark Elise Archer said the Hodgman Liberal Government was “very proud” to support Hamlet, providing $110,000 towards its work experience program.

Ms Archer said the achievement of 20,000 hours demonstrated “how successful a social enterprise like this can be – but of course be a burgeoning business as well.”

“I know that a lot of the locals do attend the café frequently and enjoy what they have to offer and of course engage with all the employees as well,” she said.

“We know that gaining training and then employment is a great confidence booster for our young Tasmanians.”

Ms Briffa said out of the many stories she heard, the one that stood out was the connection to the community that employment provided.

“People in general want to feel connected and unemployment can be a very isolating situation,” she said.

“So, I think that’s what we provide and also that increase in confidence.”

Sophie Kluver, who has been a participant of the program for around one-and-a-half years, is one example of that story.

For three years, social anxiety kept Ms Kluver from finding employment.

Reflecting on her experience at Hamlet, she described it as “really incredible.”

“It’s really built up my self-confidence, given me practical skills to be able to go back and enjoy the workforce,” she said.

To others struggling, Ms Kluver said to “take small steps, don’t overwhelm yourself with where you want to be, just break it all down and work out what’s the first step you need to take.”

“For me it was reaching out, then it was coming here and asking them if they’re open, and yeah, they helped me,” she said.

“I needed a job and with Hamlet the whole situation just changed.”

Ms Kluver is still undergoing training at Hamlet.

She said her future plans included focusing on finding work and being able to give back.

Caption: Hamlet Café workers Sophie Kluver, left, and Guy Swan.

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