Bendigo region YOUth Community program participants ready to graduate intensive six-month program

Jamie Bertus
Jamie Bertus

Jamie Bertus has learnt there are two types of jobs, those which you do to survive and those you dream of.

Two months ago, Jamie landed a dream job, thanks in no small part to a new employment program run with the assistance of employment agency MatchWorks and funded by the federal government.

He is part of a group of locals aged 15 to 24-years-of-age who will graduate on Wednesday from the 6-month intensive YOUth Community program.

Jamie had already taken part in a number of jobs programs before he started with YOUth Community. He said this one was different.

“It focuses more on the person, not just how to get a job,” he said.

To get into the program, participants had to either have been unemployed for 12 months or more, or meet a range of other criteria including low education levels, literacy or numeracy issues, unstable housing, involvement in the legal system or mental health issues.

MatchWorks trainer for youth empowerment Julie* said that of the 22 people who had started the program, six had work, one had done work experience and another had gone into further education.

She said finding creative and engaging ways to support training, personal development, emotional support and well-being had been a priority, because many participants had previously felt disengaged.

The program included one-on-one mentoring, talks from local employers, help applying for work and even a specialised phone app to help build employment skills.

Participants were encouraged to meet regularly as well as form a Facebook group to support each other and network.

Jamie said the program had been a way to bust through barriers, helping him realise he had lacked the confidence needed to put himself out there with potential employers.

Julie said Jamie had been one of the program’s stand-out performers, volunteering for a charity’s Christmas tree drive and becoming administrator of the program’s Facebook group.

His efforts drew the attention of Epsom-based Forrest Computing, which two months ago gave him a job as a computer programmer.

The YOUth Community program graduation takes place this Wednesday.

* MatchWork staff asked that their last names not be used in this article over concerns for their privacy.