As academic adviser for The Mt Druitt University Hub, Remy Low helps students from backgrounds of generational unemployment, as well as tradies and other people who decide to purse university study well after they finish high school.
Mr Low spoke to 120 school and industry leaders at an event to discuss the employment futures of young people in western Sydney on Tuesday, organised by AusSIP.
The non-profit organisation joins schools with industry to give students skills for employment under the federally funded Partnership Brokers program.
The organisation was told it would not receive any funding in today's federal budget.
Mr Low said intermediate organisations between high schools, the workforce and higher education like the hub and AusSIP were important, with unemployment rates in the Mt Druitt area between 21 and 45.6 per cent.
"By pulling out AusSIP you break an entire pathway for these young people to get to work or to university if that's what they want to do," he said.
"Going from school to university is a hard experience for all of us, but for a lot of these young people the transition is particularly rough, partly because there is no experience within their circles of family or friends who have been to university.
"For them it's really a feeling of being lost at sea."
Local employment co-ordinator for Sydney's west, Narelle Wheathead, said about 30 per cent of year 12 graduates went to university, and only half of those finished their degrees.
"Our system is set up to basically support 15 per cent of our school population and what do we do with the rest?" she said.
Mr Low said socially inclusive activities and academic workshops could help universities retain students.
‘‘In the age where higher education was an elite thing, you got away with just hitting people with content,’’ he said.
‘‘In the age of mass higher education I think universities have an obligation to teach those [essay writing and research] skills upfront.’’
■ The Mt Druitt University Hub is at 91 North Parade, Mt Druitt.
Details: 9832 4455.
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