Published on Sep 20, 2016

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Cessnock City Council has successfully secured NSW government funding to develop a model that will not only mitigate youth unemployment in the region, but potentially across Australia.  The highly anticipated project follows the Hunter Valley Youth Unemployment Symposium delivered by Cessnock City Council in November last year.

The ground-breaking pilot program involves the NSW Government’s Department of Industry’s Training Services NSW and Office of Regional Development working in partnership with Cessnock City Council and Yancoal to support young people to be ‘job ready’.

The program currently accepts five unemployed young people from Cessnock aged 18-21, four times per year. The young adults are placed at the Hunter Valley Visitor Centre on a volunteer roster system, for up to 25 hours per week.

The volunteer trainees will be provided any and all training and support necessary to assist them in securing paid work at the end of 10 weeks. The program includes intensive training and skilling, and exposure to the expectations of a real workplace.

The program, if successful could be rolled out to every Council across Australia to provide opportunities for unemployed young people to engage in meaningful work.

The stakes are high, and Economic Development Manager, Jane Holdsworth recognises how critical it is to take action, especially in the Hunter Valley where youth unemployment was as high as 22 percent in January 2016. The statistics prompted Council’s instigation of the project.

“Imagine, if every Council was able to get 20 of their unemployed youths into work, every year a minimum of 14,000 jobs could be created for youths, each year nationally. This could be a massive boost to reversing the alarming statistics.”

“I’m proud that our Council is being pro-active and practical in addressing this national issue.  Our young people are our future”.

Five enthusiastic young people from the first of the four groups are now in their third week of work experience at the Hunter Valley Visitor Centre. The program also offers participants experience in PK’s on Pokolbin café at the visitor centre, as well as in the wine tasting area operated by Colin Peterson of the Petersons Wines group.

The five young people are already gaining in-depth experience at the Hunter Valley Visitor Centre in only a few weeks. They have been fully immersed and continue to gain experience in visitor servicing, retail and merchandising, wine knowledge, sales and tasting of wine to visitors, as well as general business and café operations.

The participants are in good hands, each having a mentor from the highly experienced and knowledgeable staff at the Hunter Valley Visitor Centre. They are learning excellence in customer service, work ethics, gaining confidence and pride in the work they do.

If you would like more information on the project, or if you think your business might have a suitable position opening up for an enthusiastic Cessnock youth with excellent work ethics, experience and skills; please contact Jane Holdsworth on 4993 4257 or email:

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