In Australia, men still greatly outnumber women when it comes to obtaining full time employment, national statistics show.
In fact, the labour force participation rate of people aged 20-74 years was 65.1% for women and 78.3% for men during 2014-15, according to ABS data, revealing that when it comes to the workforce, women still lag behind men.
But one program is working to close the gender gap in the workforce by targeting a younger generation of women. The Women@Work program, designed by the Skilling Australia Foundation in collaboration with a number of supporters such as Coca Cola Foundation, Commonwealth Bank and Sisters of Charity, aims to empower and support young women looking for employment by offering them the skills and tools to put their best foot forward and improving their chances of commencing a career in business administration.
The program focuses on helping young, unemployed women aged between 17 and 24, by providing them with the opportunity to complete a three week pre-employment program.
During this time they participate in activities which provide them with specific skills training, they can apply to work in an office environment. Improving presentation, communications skills, as well as resume building, goal setting, team activities, workplace tours, mock interviews, guest speakers and one week of work placement in an office environment.
Alia Spark, from Melbourne, is one young woman who is reaping the benefits of the program. The 23-year-old decided to embark on the Women@Work program believing it would give her the right skills she needed to secure a traineeship and forge a career in business administration.
“The Women@Work program really boosted my confidence and gave me the soft skills I needed,” Alia said.
After completing the program, Alia worked as a Business Trainee and then was promptly promoted to Executive Assistant at the Department of Health and Human Services in Victoria, within the Aboriginal Health and Wellbeing team.
Responsibilities include organising meetings, diary management for the Director of Aboriginal Health and Well being, file management, answering phones, authoring briefs, accounts reconciliation and more.
Evan Henry, Alia’s mentor said “Alia was naturally shy and reserved when he first met her, but thanks to the program and the experience of her traineeship, Alia has really matured and grown not only in her confidence, but also her capabilities in the workplace. The Women@Work program taught her the soft skills to perform well in interviews, the confidence in applying for work and then how to work within a team once employed” The program, he said, “also helped Alia understand the dynamics of a professional workplace environment and the expectations of an employer.”
Alia said before participating in the Women@Work program her lack of confidence and feelings of insecurity prevented her from successfully gaining employment. “I was always getting knocked back with interviews but the short course really boosted my confidence and I was able to secure a full time traineeship within the Victorian State Government!” she said. “It really helped me, and I would recommend it to any other young woman.”