Over 120 representatives from leading businesses joined Jobs Victoria for the inaugural employer celebration event in Melbourne last week.
The event brought together businesses involved with the Victorian Government’s employment service, Jobs Victoria, as well as the JobsBank initiative. Both work to reduce barriers to employment and offer tailored, localised support to job-seekers and employers.
Over the course of the event, guests were able to hear stories from fellow employers about how partnering with these groups had been instrumental to their businesses.
Filling workplace needs
Running a construction company in the energy sector, Justin Coburn, Community and Stakeholder Engagement Manager of Beon Energy Solutions, told attendees that when he was faced with the task of hiring workers to build a solar farm in Mildura, he turned to Jobs Victoria for help with hiring.
"We made a commitment to make a contribution to the local community by employing as many locals as we could, and we also wanted to employ people who faced barriers to finding work" says Justin.
"Through the partnership with Jobs Victoria, we’ve been able to employ about 50 workers."
"The unintended benefit has been to our own workforce," Justin continued. "They’ve seen the benefits that our projects make to the local community and to people who face barriers to employment. They have been inspired, they’re satisfied, and they love their own job."
The “right to work”
Elleni Bereded-Samuel, Diversity Capability Development Manager of Australian Unity, joined the panel discussion with Justin.
Australian Unity also pledged jobs to JobsBank and hired Jobs Victoria participants for its aged care facilities and head office. This has included allocating roles to suit the capabilities of specific candidates, including people with a disability.
Explaining why she is supportive of Jobs Victoria, Elleni said that it stems from her belief that everyone has the right to work. "It’s about social justice," she says. "That’s one of the things that’s important to me. If you give someone a job it changes that person’s life, it changes their family’s life, and it changes the community.
"We do need wrap around services for people, and we need to identify people’s needs. Then, we need to work through the strengths and build on those strengths, not their weaknesses," said Elleni.
Sean Bonham, General Manager of one of Victoria’s biggest rail infrastructure companies, Coleman Rail, has similarly taken up the recruitment services on offer.
"The biggest barrier to growth for my business is people. As a business, we’ve taken on 117 workers in nine months, and we can see the pipeline of work ahead of us," Sean says. "So the workload is there, but as a business we need to differentiate ourselves in order to retain the best talent."
Coleman Rail has now employed 17 engineering cadets, as well as job-seekers with complex barriers to employment, including long-term unemployment, interactions with the justice system and mental health issues.
"We’ve all had times when we’ve needed support. We’ve been on a journey for several months and now have social procurement as part of our contract – we use that as our point of difference for our business.
"We’ve had to take a bit of personal responsibility in that process, and support people – and the pay back has been fantastic. People in our business are now taking pride in being able to look after individuals. It’s great for us as a business, but it’s also meant that our supervisors have been able to grow and become better mentors."
Justin Coburn, who hired workers for his solar farm, echoed Sean’s sentiments about fostering a supportive workplace.
"There’s plenty of programs about rehabilitation and justice, but the best thing you can do for a person is give them a job – a meaningful job," he says. "And sharing that with our own workers, and having them see the benefits, that has been a positive for the company.
Leading by example
Representing government at the event was Vicki Lahey of the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources (DEDJTR). She said that the Victorian Government was well-placed to play a leading role in the employment space.
"The Victorian public service has strong values, and the Jobs Victoria programs demonstrate those values – it’s about increasing diversity in the workplace, and providing young people with a career path, when otherwise they may not have had that opportunity."
DEDJTR and other government departments have committed to inclusive workforces, including offering young people the opportunity to get paid work experience in the Victorian Public Service through Jobs Victoria’s Youth Employment Scheme and Youth Cadetship Scheme.
Jobs Victoria has supported almost 9000 Victorians into work through its suite of tailored services. For more information on how Jobs Victoria can help your business, visit the Jobs Victoria website.