Youth First Employment Toolkit

Youth First Employment Toolkit

In January 2018, Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter Scot McDonald MLC officially launched the Youth First Program Toolkit developed by Cessnock City Council’s Economic Development Unit.

The Cessnock City Youth First initiative was born following the Hunter Valley Youth Unemployment Symposium facilitated by Cessnock City Council that saw a region wide approach to tackling the critical issue of youth unemployment.

The ground-breaking pilot program saw local young people undertake a training program that upskilled them and saw them obtain relevant industry qualifications in retail and hospitality.

The NSW Government’s Department of Industry’s Training Services and Office of Regional Development worked in partnership with Cessnock City Council to make the program a reality. Yancoal Austar Coal Operations also proudly supported the program.

If every Council was able to get 10 of their unemployed youths into work using the Youth First Program Toolkit, a minimum of 5,000 jobs could be filled nationally by our young people each year.In January 2018, Cessnock City Council distributed a copy of the toolkit to every council in Australia (nearly 550 Councils).

The program is designed to assist young jobseekers with work experience, core skills development, mentoring and the development of worker traits that will make them more competitive for employment. It also utilises Council’s vast business network, to connect participants with local employers, who employ people in the Vocational Goal that they have chosen.

We make the toolkit available for digital download:



The Youth First Program model was developed and piloted by the Economic Development Unit within Cessnock City Council, in the NSW Hunter region in 2016. The project was part of a multi-faceted, whole of government response to youth unemployment, well above national averages. The development of this program was one of the key recommendations of a Youth Unemployment Symposium held in 2015, attended by a wide range of employment providers, federal, state, and local government representatives, and community groups in response to the growing youth unemployment issue in the region.

Three pilot programs were run, each achieving a high level of employment outcomes. In 2017, the program was reviewed in line with the lessons learned in the pilot programs, and the Model
was documented and developed into this Toolkit for use by other Councils.

While unemployment as a portfolio is managed at a federal level, the social impacts associated with youth unemployment, and the ramifications for future generations are a major social issue
for all levels of government, business, and society in general. The aim is to have this Toolkit available to all councils nationally, so that it can be utilised as part of an overall strategy to improve employment outcomes and future employment prospects for young people.

Lots of support for the Cessnock City Youth First Program and the launch of the Toolkit.

Read the background stories and Information:

Background Documents:

If you require more information on the toolkit or background information on Cessnock City’s pilot program, please contact Cessnock City Council’s Economic Development Unit using the Contact page