THE KEY PROCESSES THAT ENGAGE DISAFFECTED YOUTH IN VOCATIONAL PROGRAMS: A RESEARCH PROJECT ON BOYSTOWN’S SOCIAL ENTERPRISES
1 Griffith University and BoysTown (AUSTRALIA)
2 Australian Catholic University (AUSTRALIA)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2013 Proceedings
Publication year: 2013
Conference name: 6th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 18-20 November, 2013
Location: Seville, Spain
Abstract:Youth unemployment and disengagement remains a constant problem in Australia and is consistently higher than the national unemployment rate. This issue is even more prevalent for disadvantaged young people in lower socio-economic areas. One approach gaining support in Australia that addresses this issue is social enterprise programs. These programs are delivered in a supportive environment where participants have paid work, learn vocational competence, and develop employability skills on-the-job. In addition, participants receive case management to address their non-vocational barriers to employment and education. BoysTown is a not-for-profit organisation that delivers social enterprise programs for disadvantaged young people aged 15 to 25 years in the lower socio-economic areas of three regions in Australia. BoysTown has been operating these programs since 2000 and were keen to build on their successes by increasing the engagement of its participants. Hence, BoysTown collaborated with Griffith University on an Australian Research Council linkage project entitled, “Reconnecting Disaffected Youth through Successful Transition to Work”. Specifically, the research findings indicated that the core processes to engaging young people revolved around concepts such as “person-centredness”, “program engagement-centredness” and “success-centredness”. Furthermore, these concepts were linked to recognising and attending to participants’ psycho-social and cultural needs, cognitive-motivational commitment, and employment and personal development. In addition, the research findings identified the characteristics of participants who were more likely to disengage from the program. Altogether, the research project provided evidence for BoysTown to improve its service delivery and case management and in turn, increase its participants’ engagement and opportunities to obtain positive employment and education outcomes.
Keywords: Social enterprise, youth, research project, engagement, employment, education.