What do Geelong students think about their future?
We know from daily media reports how our country and our state are travelling. But what about in our own backyard? The numbers of jobs on Geelong Careers give a true and focussed indication of what is happening in our region. Yes, Covid 19 has hit us hard. In August Job numbers dropped as low as 513 per day. Industries like hospitality and tourism have been particularly affected. But is there any sign yet of recovery? What about our usually strong trending industries like health, education and construction? How are we really going?If you thought Geelong students were feeling sorry for themselves, you might be surprised.
A group of Geelong business leaders recently found quite the opposite. Responding to a call from the GRLLEN to support young people with Virtual Employment Interview Training (VEIT) online, the interviewers found an inspired and inspiring group ready and willing to take on the challenges the future might throw at them.
Shannon Goodall, HR Coordinator, Harwood Andrews, was impressed with the aspirations of the students she interviewed. “All knew what they wanted to do in their working life and had determined a path, including an alternate route, to get there.”
When asked about their remote learning experience and the uniquely year 12 events they have had to give up, the students were largely philosophical. “Everyone has had to make sacrifices this year,” said Charlotte from Christian College, “You just have to get on with it.” Charlotte is aiming for a career in Community Services and was heartened to hear that her industry of choice is one of the top performing in the region.
Interviewer Shannon Goodall was also inspired. “Given the Covid environment, the job search and ability to work during this period has affected most people. Despite that, all students had kept their goals in sight.” The experience gave Shannon a much valued opportunity to engage with and help shape Geelong’s future workforce. “I was impressed with the high quality of the students I interviewed. All coped and performed very well in an online interview. Even as the interviewer, I find it more challenging as the cues you pick up when face to face aren’t there”.
With online interviews the new normal, the students reported they valued the VEIT real life learning experience.They gave VEIT a 100% approval rating, many students suggesting it would be a worthwhile ongoing offering for next year’s Year 12s.
Chloe from Clonard College said the interview helped her gain confidence. “It was great to get feedback on what interview questions I did well on and what I could improve on.”
Classmate, Mackenzie agreed. “I loved the program as it helped me gain some confidence. I was guided in what I said well and what I needed to add or elaborate on.”
Alicia Year 12, Clonard College, appreciated the real life learning opportunity.” The benefits of the mock interviews were that we got to practice doing an interview on zoom. I think it was a really good experience and it helped me a lot to practice my skills for an interview.”
In a year when teachers have been forced to put their face-to-face lessons online, the VEIT program has been a breath of fresh air.
Despite the pandemic shut down, job numbers are staying strong. Committee for Geelong CEO, Jen Cromarty, believes this is a reflection of Geelong’ natural resilience. “I think our economy is already built to withstand challenges”. Jen cites the past 40 years of our history where Geelong has traversed a series of huge challenges.“ From the textile industry crisis, through the Pyramid Building Society collapse, to the more recent demise of heavy industry, Geelong continues to emerge stronger, more resilient and more diverse.” Ross George, CEO of Austeng Engineering, agrees. His company has developed a flexibility to respond to opportunities even if they seemed outside core business. “This practice has enabled Austeng to weather Covid-19 challenges quite well. Being flexible and responsive is the key to our future and the future of Geelong.” Both Ross and Jen believe how we get together as a community to organise and leverage funding over the next few months is critical. Key leadership groups like Geelong Manufacturing, G21, the Chamber of Commerce and the Committee for Geelong have already formed a collective response to show government that Geelong is ready to go.
This is good news for the 9392 people who checked out jobs on Geelong Careers in September 2020, four thousand more than in August 2020, and the 326 employers loaded jobs exclusively onto the free Geelong Careers site, 26 more than September last year, when there was no Covid!
It is heartening to see more of our region accessing the free resource the GRLLEN built six years ago, with the aim of strengthening our region’s work force. In these challenging times we need to support each other more than ever.