Partnership Brokers lose funding for western Sydney

The programs that make more than 10,000 young people in western Sydney job-ready each year may be dead by December.

The federal government will cut funding to Partnership Brokers, a service that creates partnerships between high schools and industry to give young people employment skills and smooth the transition to work.

BREED in Blacktown, 2realise in The Hills, Schools Industry Partnership (SIP) in the Hawkesbury and Penrith, and AusSIP in The Hills and Parramatta are among the services affected.

The federal funding accounts for more than 60 per cent of their operating budgets, while the roughly 30 per cent of funding from the state government for the work placement program the services also run, comes via the federal government — making it unlikely they will continue to operate past the end of the year.

"We don't know if it's going to survive," SIP chief executive Ian Palmer said.

"It seems the federal government now believes kids can fend for themselves.

"We believe this to be a false saving, as the cost of youth unemployment will soon outstrip any possible short term savings. It is often too late to address . . . when a young person presents at Centrelink.

"Volunteer parents and employers working with schools is not only more effective, it's far cheaper."

Partnership Brokers has allowed students "career conversations" which give them the information needed to pursue a career from professionals in their chosen field, try-a-trade expos, interview skills, guest speakers, and specialist programs such as a computer game building workshop for teens with Asperger's syndrome.

"Students learn more in one week of work placement than they do in three or four months in the classroom," AusSIP chief executive John Watters, an ex-teacher, said.

"You need to contextualise what is being taught, otherwise it's like teaching people to swim without getting them into a pool."

BREED managing director Stephen Frost's reaction to the funding cuts was "extreme disappointment".

"We work in areas where there is generational unemployment," he said.

"It's far better to have them focused while they're at school as it helps them to see that there is a future ."

Brokers' reach wide

BREED education, employment and economic development, delivers the Partnership Brokers and structured workplace learning programs to the whole Blacktown local government area including Mt Druitt and Bidwill.

■ 4500 industry work placements are found for local high school and TAFE students by BREED.

■ 10,000 students are exposed each year to possible careers through the try-a-skill expo and Blacktown Careers and Employment Expo at Blacktown TAFE - a Partnership Brokers effort.

■ 460 employers on BREED’s books that regularly take students for work placements.

■ 236 active employers in the Partnership Broker program.

■ 16 % of Blacktown’s young people are unemployed.

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