Youth unemployment addressed
ADDRESSING the issue of youth unemployment has always been a challenge but that didn’t deter participants in a think tank at Bellingen this week from taking a close look at an innovative range of options.
Held as part of the North Coast Innovation Festival, the think tank attracted around 30 business, employment, council and youth group representatives, as well as young men and women hopeful of securing their own sustainable futures.
The facilitator, OzGreen co-founder Sue Lennox, said Bellingen was the ideal place to begin exploring sustainable employment options as the world stared down the issues of climate change, peak oil and carbon emissions.
“The Bellingen Shire Council deserves praise for setting goals to reduce carbon emissions and its carbon footprint,” Ms Lennox said.
“Youth unemployment is a major social issue here and at 15 per cent is the second highest in the country so it is becoming increasingly urgent that we identify solutions that are fair for current and future generations and are good for the environment,” she said.
Mrs Lennox said one outcome of the think tank was to hold a forum in the near future at which local youth, parents, employers and training providers met to explore opportunities and support for businesses to take on more trainees.
“We also looked at the gaps in the local economy and the scope to value-add in the areas of renewable energy, tourism and food production,” she said.
“In some ways there was a bit of a ‘back to the future’ feel as people reflected on the days when the valley was home to a lot more small core businesses.”
The potential to develop youth-oriented enterprises was also high on the agenda.
“The enthusiasm of the youth who attended to be part of the process of creating a future that was economically, socially and environmentally sustainable was heartening indeed,” she said.