$2.5m to support First Nations’ Education-to-employment Pathways to in-demand Jobs

EDUCATION-to-employment provider Generation Australia will embark on a three-year partnership with Bank of America to support First Nations Australians into in-demand roles as a result of a $2.5 million (US$1.8 million) funding commitment from the bank.

Generation Australia builds demand-led education-to-employment programs to prepare, place and support motivated workers who have traditionally faced barriers to employment into growing roles and industries.

This grant is part of Bank of America’s $1.25 billion, five-year global commitment to advance racial equality and economic opportunity for historically marginalised communities, including initiatives focused on health, jobs and reskilling, affordable housing, small business, and investments to address racial justice, advocacy and equality.

“First Nations Australians face significantly more barriers to access meaningful employment than the average Australian, and lack of cultural understanding or unsupportive work environments create further challenges in employment,” Generation Australia CEO Malcolm Kinns said.

Between 2008 and 2018-19, the national First Nations employment rate was 49 per cent, compared to that of non-First Nations Australians at 75 per cent1, however, the low number of employed First Nations people in Australia is only part of the story.

“With this funding and partnership with the Bank of America, we will work with First Nations people to ensure a community-led and participatory approach,” Mr Kinns continued.

“We will further enhance and extend our education-to-employment programs to be relevant, appropriate, inclusive and accessible; to support more First Nations Australians into in-demand, career-launching jobs.

“We are actively working to bring more First Nations’ perspectives into our organisation, to work alongside our First Nations Advisory Board and team members.

“New employees, partners and engagement with the community will inform the design and delivery of our programs, as well as how we support individuals and employers,” Mr Kinns said.

In addition to the Australian partnership, the Bank of America is also supporting Generation globally in Italy, Hong Kong, and Singapore.

“Australia’s workforce of the future will be an increasingly diverse one and it is crucial that we help to provide under-represented young adults with the skills needed to connect to in-demand careers.

“It’s one way we’re working to advance racial equality and economic opportunity in communities in Australia, and globally,” Joseph Fayyad, Australia CEO and country executive, Bank of America, said.

Brenz Saunders, a board member at Tauondi Aboriginal College, has worked with Generation Australia to launch a junior web developer program to help support more First Nations people into the IT sector.

“As an example, First Nations representation in the IT sector in South Australia is effectively zero per cent.

“The Tauondi Aboriginal College program with Generation Australia launched in 2021 and is creating pathways for First Nations people into IT jobs,’’ Mr Saunders said, who is also a member of Generation Australia’s First Nations Advisory Board.

“However, increasing job opportunities for First Nations Australians doesn’t end with employment.

“It takes an ongoing commitment to improving cultural understanding and accessibility to create equity, which is exactly how this funding from Bank of America will be used.

“Generation will be able to continue to scale-up their work, to remove barriers and support more First Nations Australians into in-demand jobs in growing sectors,” Mr Saunders said.

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