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Unlocking potential and building future workforces

31 May 2023

Youth Activating Youth (YAY) and Victorian Chamber teamed up with Jobs Victoria on an internship program to tackle the skills shortage while empowering multicultural youth in the jobs market.


The program matches young people with tertiary qualifications from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds into paid internships. The interns are assisted with wraparound support, and pre-internship preparatory training. The employers receive cultural awareness training and a $5,000 contribution towards the cost of the 6-8 week internship.  

YAY Executive Director Ahmed Hassan says partnering with the Victorian Chamber was a natural fit: The Victorian Chamber has a very close working relationship with the community and YAY are lucky to be one of those community members,” he says. 

“We thought about what’s innovative that we can work on to solve some of the issues around diverse young people that are not able to find jobs and the staff shortages that were happening at the time. 

“We work together making sure that we identify what industries they want to get into, develop their resumes, develop their professional understanding of what the workplace might look like, and then get them into the door.” 

More than half a year into the program, companies and interns have been matched in the logistics, engineering, human resources, events, marketing industries and more.  

Interns flourish 

Melbourne Chamber member SCT Logistics has been an active participant in the program, taking on four interns: Fahmi in operations, Connie in people and culture, and Ayalew and Sakariya in data analytics. 

Highlighting the intended success of the program, Fahmi has progressed though his internship and is now a permanent employee.  

Fahmi’s unique journey started after completing a Bachelor of Health Science last year before being told about the YAY program and applying for the internship. 

Upon his acceptance, Fahmi received training through the Victorian Chamber and YAY in professional development, resume writing and was guided through the professional interview process. 

“I learned things I hadn't seen yet – how to get along with new people be more inclusive,” he says. 

Starting as an operations intern, Fahmi is now an operational manager associate. He looks after client orders between Melbourne and Sydney, liaising with truck drivers and subcontractors and planning for the next day or week. 

“A lot of this job is different to other things I do because it's a lot of active thinking; you don't just think for tomorrow but you also think on the spot. Things can change at any moment,” he says.  

“That's what I like about this job. My brain's ticking nonstop. In other places I don’t get to use my skillset to the best capacity as I do here.” 

For Fahmi, the main benefit has been the tangible outcome from the program. 

“Learning something in a short period of time, doing training for it and then working in it. Ultimately there’s a goal – it's like a three-step process.” 

Connie is a human resources professional with a degree in psychology, interning as a people and culture assistant at SCT. 

“It has been an amazing experience. I applied last year, it was my Christmas present because it was in December,” she says. 

Connie appreciates the program preparing her for a real-world work environment.  

“Once I was accepted by the YAY program, they started training me for the real life and my very first interview. They give me advice about how to make a professional resumé that I thought I knew, but I was wrong because it was totally different to make a real professional resumé.  

“I was nervous because it was not easy to get the internship. It was challenging.” 

In her role Connie has been involved in different aspects of HR such as recruitment, onboarding and health and safety, but SCT has also agreed to give Connie “a little bit of exposure in every area” to prepare her for either a permanent role at SCT or beyond.  

“It has been really good because I'm learning a lot of the industry, not just in human resources but getting some knowledge for everything for the future”. 

Most important for Connie has been the feeling of inclusion from both YAY and SCT. 

“YAY supports people to start their professional pathways. They give you confidence and make you ready for a professional job despite your background and English barriers – they trust you. 

“SCT is a company that promotes a respect for diversity. In this company you can find a lot of different cultures. They respect you, your language and your mother tongue. They treat you as a peer, as a colleague.”   

Photo: Credit

Employers benefit 

Mena is SCT’s people and culture business partner managing the Altona operations. She says the interns have been fantastic and SCT has benefited in many ways from having them on board. 

“One is an opportunity for us to attract new talent. The second is also enhancing productivity. They are very eager to learn, so much curiosity in how the business works and they always bring a lot of ideas to their supervisors and managers,” she says. 

“It's also a good opportunity to enhance the diversity of the workplace. Not just from a cultural background but their work experience, the way they do things, the languages that they bring.  

“You're going to have a new perspective from the new generation, see what they can bring to the table and reshape the whole workforce in the future.  

“I'm personally very passionate to support this this group and this internship program.” 

Program grows  

“This pilot program has grown so fast in such a short time. This internship is flourishing,” Ahmed says. 

The key for employers is viewing employing youth as an exciting future opportunity. 

“I highly encourage employers to actually look at the next generation of young people because they’re going to be tomorrow’s leaders. 

“When you’re looking at vulnerable candidates, don’t think that they’re vulnerable. They’re not. Look at their loyalty. When you empower them, they’re more likely to go above and beyond.” 

Victorian Chamber Chief Executive Paul Guerra says: “We are proud to be delivering this internship program in partnership with Jobs Victoria and YAY. 

“I encourage all employers to consider taking part. This opportunity not only enables you to utilise the skills, ideas and talents of a degree-qualified intern, but it also provides a unique opportunity to give a career leg-up to young people, which could change their lives.”  

How to join 

As the program progresses, demand remains high with more than 40 graduates seeking internships. Employers are being sought particularly in the following industries: 

  • Building (project management, civil engineering, architecture) 
  • IT (cybersecurity, web developer, programming, business analysts) 
  • Science (biomed, biotech, ag science, health science). 

More information and expressions of interest can be found on the Placement Program page.  

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