New hope in jobs hunt

Posted: 31st Mar

A digital project is helping to put Geelong on the map, writes Sue Green.

With the looming end to car production in Australia and the closure of the Alcoa refinery, Geelong is rarely seen as having bright employment prospects. But a digital project with appeal for young people aims to let them know there are local job prospects and helps to find them.

Called Dream Real, it involves virtual careers shops bringing together all the local jobs on offer – those advertised online – including through MyCareer – and some listed by employers. It also has sites for trending Geelong careers including caring, hospitality and tourism, teaching, transport and logistics. Others to have their own site are agribusiness, construction, ICT and advanced manufacturing. Dream Real will be launched as an app on March 18.

Deakin University lecturer Marianne Messer, Dream Real’s project officer, says: ‘‘Geelong happens to be under threat because all the big employers are reducing or leaving so the impression our young people get is that Geelong is not a good place and they should be getting trained and then going and working elsewhere.’’

Messer became involved 21⁄2 years ago, working for the Geelong regional Local Learning and Employment Network (LLEN), a government- funded, non-profit organisation. She had been working on a careers radio program and the LLEN was contemplating a local bricks and mortar careers shop. But funding was problematic so it was decided to go virtual.

‘‘We wanted parents to be able to see where the trending industries were in the future for their kids. We wanted to show how much employment has changed – great dynamic industries are coming on board.’’ At Deakin Messer interviews first-year students and says: ‘‘It seemed to me that young people will have a go if you offer them a bit of hope and an opportunity. I wanted students to have a chance to make informed decisions about where they were putting all their energy.

‘‘So many are doing forensic psychology, driven there by CSI.

‘‘But just one forensic psychologist is hired in Australia each year.’’

When she tells them that, they ask what else they could do.

Because the app developer suggested a multichannel approach, two websites were developed first: Geelong Careers and Careers in Caring. The app version one lacked functionality, but Messer says the new version, for phone and tablet, android and Apple, should bring together advertisements harvested by postcode and trending careers information.

A website function which has careers teacher Amber Cox excited is the ability for users to create an AirCV – they load a Word document with their qualifications and experience, from babysitting to playing local cricket, and it creates a CV in a bubble format – a six-second view of everything employers want to know about an applicant’s suitability and employability, based on a survey of 5000 employers, Messer says.

Cox, careers adviser at Covenant College, plans to use the talent communities – the opportunities associated with each of the trending careers, such as job advertisements, noticeboards and articles and the AirCV capability – with students.

‘‘I plan to get them online to do some research in terms of what is available in

the region,’’ she says. ‘‘Our kids want to stay local. To see Geelong jobs, local jobs and see the breadth on offer, that does encourage kids.

‘‘In terms of Geelong growth and promotion of local industries it is a really good thing. Kids, parents, they get the impression from the media that opportunities are in Melbourne or you have to go interstate. Anyone can get their hands on this and have a look at Geelong and the opportunities: it puts us on the map really.’’

Dream Real is set to spread state- wide, with Warrnambool, Melbourne/ Marybyrnong and Glenelg/Southern Grampians planning to design their own version.

THE SYDNEY MORNING HERALD – SUE GREEN - MARCH 15-16, 2014

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