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TaskForce Community Agency has had remarkable success in finding work for members of southeast Melbourne’s African community.

With funding from the Victorian Government allocated to help 130 clients in our Jobs Victoria Employment Services – AfriCareers program, TaskForce has already found employment for 116 people, with 11 months remaining in the contract.

A total of 254 jobseekers have registered, almost double the number that the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions (DJPR) funding allowed for.

Silvia Saso, the Jobs Victoria Employment Services Manager at TaskForce Community Agency said demand for the AfriCareers program is still growing strongly through word of mouth and TaskForce is working with other agencies, employers and government to make resources stretch even further.

Members of southeast Melbourne’s African community often find it hard to get work due to a variety of factors such as discrimination, lack of experience, lack of Australian work history or low education levels, she said.

The Jobs Victoria Employment Services – AfriCareers program, which TaskForce delivers in partnership with Afri Aus Care and Centre for Multicultural Youth, is relatively simple in concept but transformational in practice.

“Jobseekers register to receive one-on-one support from a Jobs Victoria mentor. The mentor helps the new client create a pathway plan into education and employment and identify the issues that the jobseeker faces to make their plan a reality,” Ms Saso said.

“Through regular appointments, the mentor will use a wraparound model to assist the jobseeker in overcoming the barriers, increase their skillset and get them job ready.”

Jobseekers are supported with specialist coaching, career counselling, work readiness programs and referrals to other services as needed.

Education opportunities – such as nationally recognised training, short courses, licences and tickets (e.g. forklift, white card, police checks) are provided.

As soon as the program launched, jobseekers embraced the program and registered in high numbers. 

The AfriCareers Jobs Victoria Employment Services (JVES) mentors are bicultural so there’s relatability there from the start. 

“Mentors truly understand the client’s barriers to employment and instil confidence and credibility in the program,” Ms Saso said 

The JVES program provides Flexible Jobs Pathway funding for needed services, such as emergency support, work clothing, equipment, transportation costs or other necessities that would support the client while job searching or once at their new job.

Ms Saso said employers have been wonderful in their response to the program. “We asked employers to see past the lack of work experience and focus on the enthusiasm, passion and loyalty the new employee could bring.

“We asked employers to consider overseas work history and life experience. We highlighted newly learned skills/education and assured employers that all jobseekers received highly customised pre-employment training to support them on their new employment journey.

“Many employers partnered with TaskForce and we started connecting our clients with jobs. We support clients and employers for the first six months to ensure the client settles into their role well and leads to long-term sustainable employment.”

Ms Saso said the Victorian Government funded program has instilled hope right across the African community in the region.

“All these new workers are sharing their stories with the community, with their friends and family and hope has increased now that the evidence that the program works is there.

“People are genuinely turning their lives around, are making the most of the opportunity given to them and not letting go! This fills others with motivation to set their own goals and reach out to TaskForce for support. We have countless people who have called and said, “You got my friend a job, can you help me too?”

AfriCareers is supported by the Victorian Government.

Photo collage of jobs victoria participants, TaskForce jobs Victoria mentors and employers on site