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Overcoming the barriers to employment

Maddy Ware

11 Oct 2022

Mafan’s experience participating, volunteering, and working at The Huddle

A lack of prior relevant work experience continues to be a barrier to employment for young people. This is especially the case for young people from multicultural backgrounds who must compete with cultural biases and other barriers (VMC, 2021). In this current climate, young people struggle to gain work without previous paid employment experience and therefore often get into volunteer or internship roles to build their skill set. However, a lot of intern and volunteer roles are largely unpaid which leaves young people at risk of exploitation and therefore continue to struggle to gain paid employment experience.

The objective of The Huddle is to bridge the gap for young people who are looking for real-world, paid employment experiences. By providing employment opportunities to young people with little experience, The Huddle can tap into the skills of diverse youth as well as nurture their development.

Young people engaged with The Huddle’s Game Changers program are educated and supported to be better prepared and equipped with the skills, expertise and networks needed to integrate into the Australian workforce successfully, increasing economic inclusion, resilience and adaptability.

Mafan is a 27-year-old international student from Thailand. Mafan first interacted with The Huddle when she applied for the role of Community Sport and Recreation Coordinator in January 2022. Mafan was drawn to The Huddle because she was intrigued by The Huddle’s use of sport to engage with diverse communities to improve education and employment outcomes surrounding North Melbourne and Wyndham.

Mafan did not feel confident in her application and was encouraged to volunteer with The Huddle to build upon her experience. Mafan started volunteering with The Huddle in April 2022 where she supported a group of senior students to attend laser tag and bowling as part of the Huddle Holidays program. Mafan thoroughly enjoyed her experience and demonstrated excellent communication and social skills.

Mafan then started volunteering with the Sports and Recreation team where she was able to combine her love of sports and community engagement. In June 2022, Mafan was offered the role of casual Program Support Officer at The Huddle. The role involved facilitating Study Squad (community homework club) across Wyndham and North Melbourne as well as Huddle Up! (sport and recreation programs) across both municipalities. During her time as a Program Support Officer, Mafan demonstrated significant growth in her confidence and leadership skills. In August 2022, Mafan was offered a five-week secondment for the role of Community Sport and Recreation Coordinator which was the original role that drew her to The Huddle.

Subsequent to her volunteering experience at The Huddle, Mafan connected with the Careers Coordinator as part of the Game Changers program, in July 2022 to discuss her secondment at The Huddle and her career pathway. The Careers Coordinator coached Mafan to utilise the skills she had developed with The Huddle and keep working towards her career goals. In particular, the Careers Coordinator and Mafan explored how she could showcase her newly developed confidence to demonstrate her skills and experience in an interview setting. Through coaching delivered through Game Changers by the Careers Coordinator, Mafan was successful in obtaining a full-time role as a Graduate Consultant at Comacon. Mafan noted that she felt like the Careers Coordinator genuinely cared about her career and provided valuable insight into the nature of employment in Australia.

Throughout Mafan’s journey, she identified that participating, volunteering and working across Huddle programs supported her to learn, grow and belong. Huddle staff observed the development of her skills in communication, specifically, her high-level ability to facilitate groups of younger participants and converse with the parents which demonstrated her ability to adapt her communication skill to specific audiences. Mafan identified that experiences across The Huddle scaffolded her to expand her leadership skills, confidence and independence.

I felt more assured because the team at The Huddle had confidence in me, which meant I had confidence in myself.- Mafan

Mafan’s newly developed confidence and communication skills helped her gain a full-time role. Not only had Mafan gained paid work experience to include in her CV. She also gained a better understanding of how to communicate her transferrable skills in an interview and therefore felt confident when applying for jobs and sharing stories with potential employers.

Mafan disclosed that she was concerned about experiencing racism and discrimination in Australia.  Mafan’s experience with The Huddle showcased there are supportive and culturally safe organisations in Australia and therefore her mindset changed from her first application to The Huddle back in January 2022. Mafan noted that it wasn’t until she assisted with programs such as Study Squad and Huddle Up! that she realised how many diverse communities resided in Melbourne. Mafan advised that her experience with The Huddle has given her great insight into Australian culture and workplace practices but also taught her that Australian employers, such as The Huddle, genuinely care about inclusivity.

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