Welcome to the “Toolbox”. The information contained in this kit has been compiled in consultation with young people from Geraldton. Many of them were part of LEAP (Learning Engagement and Participation), an alternative education and transition program. This program is an initiative of the Geraldton Regional Community Education Centre, designed to be a stepping stone for young people to engage or re-engage them in education, training, employment and their local community. Other participants were from Strathalbyn Christian College and Geraldton Senior College. Mentoring is widely regarded as contributing to the wellbeing of young people and their transition into employment. It also has clear benefits to an organisation. The aim of the Workplace Mentor Toolbox is to provide employers, supervisors and staff with useful information that will assist them to support a young person into the workplace. This in turn may result in higher retention rates of young people as they build their skills and confidence to become highly valued members of staff. The Toolbox was compiled as a result of young people’s stories and experiences about the positive support they received from employers and staff when they embarked on their employment journey. Some of the young people had spent only a short time in workplaces and so their stories reflect what happened during the early stages of a mentoring relationship. Others had been involved in work experience for a longer period or had moved into employment. The stories, information, strategies and tips in the toolbox provide an insight into ways you can support young people’s transition to work and how you can build a strong workforce, be it a team of two or two hundred.
What’s in the Toolbox? Supporting a young person to become a valued contributor in your workplace. The Toolkit contains information for employers and staff to support and mentor young people within the workplace either informally or to create a structured workplace mentoring program. It contains: • What is mentoring? • What is your role as a mentor? • Employability skills • Problem solving with your mentee • Creating an action plan with your mentee • Helpful hints for a mentor • Strategies for building and establishing a relationship with your mentee • How important is the match? • Feedback sessions with your mentee • Young people act differently to adults! • Key messages • The stories • Acknowledgements • References and additional resources
What is mentoring? Mentoring is not a new concept, with its origins in Greek mythology. However, it does have many different definitions and interpretations. In Webster’s New World College Dictionary (2002) a mentor is defined as “a wise, loyal advisor, a teacher, a coach”. Generally it refers to a one to one relationship between an experienced person and a less experienced person. In the context of this project, mentoring was the learning partnership between a young person in their early experiences of work and a “seasoned” employer or employee who took the young person “under their wing”. The mentors were able to provide practical experiences, guidance, support, advice and encouragement. Mentoring can be informal, where interactions are unplanned and develop on their own, or formal with clear structures, goals, rules, timelines and procedures. The mentoring described in the toolkit sat somewhere between these two approaches. It was not part of a formal mentoring program within a business or organisation. However the mentor and mentee had some understanding of the mentoring concept and the relationship had some planning and structure to it. Although it is generally understood that a mentor is not normally a person’s supervisor, in a small business situation the supervisor may be required to take on a mentoring role. In the project, mentors supported young people to understand the workplace and identify their own skills and talents. They helped young people to work through challenges and to build self confidence, independence and self reliance, as well as introducing them to the world of work.
What is mentoring? Webster’s New World College Dictionary (2002) Mentor: “a wise, loyal advisor, a teacher, a coach” Australian Youth Mentoring Network http://www.youthmentoring.org.au/what-is-mentoring.html Mentoring is “a structured and trusting relationship that brings young people together with caring individuals who offer guidance, support and encouragement.” Aboriginal Workforce Development Centre http://www.trainingwa.wa.gov.au/awdc “Workplace mentoring is a mutually beneficial relationship which involves a more skilled or experienced person helping a less skilled or experienced person to achieve their goals.” “A mentor is someone you trust and who has the skills and knowledge to support you in becoming work ready, finding a job, settling into a workplace, and building a rewarding career.” MindTools http://www.mindtools.com “Mentoring is an essential leadership skill.” “Mentoring is a relationship between two people – the “mentor” and the “mentee.”
What is your role as a mentor? LISTEN
Don’t allow yourself to be distracted. Check that your body language and facial expressions indicate you are paying attention to what your mentee is asking.
Attitude determines altitude!
You should keep what is said in the mentoring sessions private unless there is a risk of harm or injury to your mentee or others.
Allow your mentee to express their ideas, thoughts, ambitions and challenges. Engage in two way conversation and take suggestions into consideration.
Share your ideas and experiences with your mentee.
Your mentee does not yet have your level of professional or life experience. Support, guide and encourage them, but be patient during the work experience or training period.
Find out about your mentee. What is their level of experience? What is their level of confidence? Are they experienced to perform a particular task but not yet confident? Are they confident in an area of employment but not yet skilled for the task? Do they have the skills and the confidence and would like to focus their attention on a new task? Don’t be afraid to ask your mentee questions about themselves.
Understand your business’ activities and future direction. Learn the policies and procedures that guide employees and share this with your mentee. Don’t engage in gossip or negative behaviours. Your mentee is looking for a role model and someone they can trust. Be casual enough so that your mentee can feel comfortable engaging with you.
Employability skills. Employability skills are a suite of skills that are most valued by employers as they are required not only to gain employment but also to progress within a business or workplace. Development of these skills within the workforce can contribute to the future direction of your enterprise. • Good communication skills contribute to productive and harmonious relations between employees and customers. • Good team work skills contribute to productive working relationships and outcomes. • Good technology skills contribute to effective execution of tasks. • Good initiative and enterprise skills contribute to innovative outcomes. • Good planning and organising skills contribute to long-term and short-term strategic planning. • Good self-management skills contribute to employee satisfaction and growth. • Good learning skills contribute to ongoing improvement and expansion in employee and company operations and outcomes. • For further information please go to www.myfuture.gov.au click on the “Facts” and scroll down to Employability Skills
Problem solving with your mentee. Problem solving may take some time and patience. Defining the problem: There is no sense in pursuing the solution until the mentor understands the whole problem. Provide a safe and comfortable environment which enables the mentee to communicate effectively. Analysing potential causes: A common trap at this stage of the process is analysing symptoms rather than seeking out the root cause. The following framework may be of assistance: â€˘ Identify potential cause/s â€˘ Determine the most likely cause/s â€˘ Identify the root cause Identify possible solutions: Brainstorming with your mentee may be an excellent method for generating a list of possible solutions. Select the best solution: The solution must be relevant and achievable to your mentee. Develop an action plan: Divide the solution into order of occurrence and include contingency plans. Review the action plan to monitor the progress and evaluate the solutions.
Creating an action plan with your mentee. An action plan outlines a set of agreed activities or goals that the young person will work towards achieving within a set time. It can add structure to the mentoring relationship. It is created between the mentor and mentee. It should focus on capabilities and strengths but may help address potential barriers and develop strategies to remove or reduce them. Action plans should be reviewed regularly and updated accordingly. Plans should: • be prepared in partnership with the mentee • include commencement and completion dates • be reviewed and updated as required • include realistic, achievable actions • be clear and concise • be arranged in a logical or chronological order • be measureable • be relevant to the mentee • be challenging enough to stimulate but not too challenging that it is overwhelming
Tasks / activities / resources involved to complete action
Person / people / services involved to complete action
Target date for action to be completed
Comments / follow up action: ___________________________________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Date of Action Plan:
Helpful hints for a mentor. Do: þþ Talk about your career pathway and educational journey. þþ Support your mentee to create agreed goals. þþ Turn your mobile off or onto silent (let your mentee know in advance if you are expecting an important call). þþ Power “with” - not power “over” your mentee. þþ Discuss challenges you have encountered and how you over came them. þþ Encourage your mentee to identify their problems, break them into manageable chunks and work on finding solutions to these challenges. þþ Accept your mentee’s challenges as being real and support him / her to identify methods to overcome them. þþ Take an interest in your mentee’s theory component if they are participating in a traineeship, apprenticeship or other study. þþ Inform your mentee of the “unwritten” rules of the organisation. This may include washing dishes in the staff room, not consuming co-workers food or drinks, removing their rubbish from company vehicles. Anything that will help them to feel like a part of your organisation.
Helpful hints for a mentor. Don’t: ýý Solve their problems. Work on them together to ensure the solutions suit your mentee. ýý Assume they already know everything. You may need to demonstrate how to use a particular piece of equipment. ýý Talk about your mentee or your conversations to others. This includes behind the scenes conversations such as Facebook or other social media. ýý Forget to review the action plan on a regular basis or as agreed between you and your mentee. ýý Forget to follow up on any agreements you have made with your mentee. ýý Rush meetings or squeeze them in around other activities... you may be distracted. ýý Cancel meetings without your mentee’s prior knowledge. ýý Laugh at your mentee’s thoughts, ideas, opinions or ambitions. ýý Provide feedback which is confusing. ýý Do your mentee’s assignments for them. Offer assistance only!
Strategies for building and establishing a relationship with your mentee. Use effective communication styles to develop trust, confidence and rapport.
Communication is the exchange and flow of information and ideas from one person to another. Two-way communication relies on each party comprehending and understanding the message. Good listeners ... þþ Don’t interrupt, especially to correct mistakes or make points. þþ Don’t judge; think before answering; face the speaker. þþ Are close enough to hear and observe nonverbal behaviour. þþ Are aware of biases or values that distort what they hear. þþ Look for the feelings and basic assumptions underlying remarks. þþ Concentrate on what is being said. þþ Avoid rehearsing answers while the other person is talking. þþ Don’t insist on having the last word.
It is estimated that when we are talking, the majority of our message is received through our facial expressions, hand gestures, posture and stance. Communication is made up of three parts: 1. The actual words we use. 2. The tone of our voice when we say those words. 3. It’s not what you say but how you say it! • The posture, facial expressions and gestures we adopt when we talk. • The way you walk, sit, stand, make eye contact, smile all matter. Your body language accounts for a huge percentage of your overall communication. When you are talking to someone they will interpret your message in the following ways: 7 - 10% via the words we use. 20 - 30% via the way we say the words. 60 - 80% via body language.
How important is the match? Mentoring will not be successful if the mentor and mentee do not have anything in common or don’t have shared goals and preferences. Young people need to know that they will be in a safe environment where they can express their concerns and where confidentiality is assured. It is important to consider: • The characteristics, skills and interests of the mentor and of the young person. • Personalities and temperaments. • Shared interests. • Commitment to sharing knowledge and skills. • Availability of both the mentor and mentee to participate. • Different learning styles. • Mutually agreeable goals.
Feedback sessions with your mentee. Feedback must: • Reflect on activities, knowledge and skills shared. • Identify mutual benefits gained. • Be honest, constructive and future focussed. • Be objective and not personalised. • Check for understanding and focus on solutions. • Include specific examples. • Be realistic. • Be sincere. • Motivate
Young people act differently to adults. Young people often behave in ways that many adults cannot understand. They can be impulsive and not consider the consequences of their actions. They can find decision making and problem solving challenging. Those who mentor young people need to understand that young people act differently to adults. Research into brain development is providing a biological explanation for this. Parts of the brain, including those parts responsible for emotions, reactions, reasoning and helping us think before we act are undergoing construction through the teenage years and well into adulthood. These changes are essential for the development of co-ordinated thought, action and behaviour. Think back to your own adolescence when your brain was being “reconstructed”. You probably took risks, said things and behaved in ways you wouldn’t consider now you are wiser and older.
Based on the stage of their brain development, young people are more likely to: •
not think things through and act on impulse
misread or misinterpret social cues and emotions
get into accidents of all kinds
disagree, argue and fight
engage in dangerous or risky behaviour
They are less likely to: •
think before they act
pause to consider the potential consequences of their actions
modify their dangerous or inappropriate behaviours
These brain differences don’t mean that young people can’t make good decisions or tell the difference between right and wrong. It also doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be held responsible for their actions. But an awareness of these differences can help you to understand and support young people in your mentoring role and as they transition to work.
Key messages. Each mentoring relationship is unique to each person, each occupation and each business or organisation. There is no one size that fits all. Each of the young people in this project had a different experience from: • A classic mentoring relationship. • More of a supervisory relationship, with some mentoring type support. • Having a number of workplace mentors. • Informal mentoring, through family connections. I’ve known him since I was about five years old and he’s always been a great guy. (Andrew - mentee) My job while they’re here is to work them hard so they don’t want to leave school … They’re not here for a free ride or a day off. (Ashley - mentor) There should be one person that builds a strong relationship with the mentee so that they always have someone to go to. However there should also be another couple of people available to the mentee in the event that the “buddy” isn’t there. (Sarah - mentor) Mentors and mentees need to have respect for each other, respect for different opinions and ways of doing things and a genuine interest in each other. Andrew works us hard and expects high standards but he has a business to run. It’s helped me learn a lot of things. (Brandon - mentee) There’s a definite trust and loyalty that you seem to develop in the process. (Andrew - mentor) Try and relate to your mentee and try and find out what they actually want to get out of coming to work. (Sarah - mentor) There is value in the wisdom of experience. Young people notice mentors behaviour and learn through modelling. Mentors lead by example. Mistakes do happen and it’s okay as long as you learn from them. (Brandon - mentee) Make it clear to your mentee that they’re in an adult learning environment. (Mark - mentor) Any student given the opportunity to participate in work experience should choose a job they want to learn to do. (Mahalia - mentee) Mentoring involves two way learning and opportunities for fresh viewpoints and to test new ideas. A young person can provide valuable insights and solutions. Ethan showed me features of the program I didn’t know were possible. (Paul - mentor)
The part I enjoyed most was being able to help people when they have a problem. (Nick - mentee) Ramarley was very happy to let me know some things she wanted to learn, things that I hadn’t even thought to include… Mentors need to give mentees an opportunity to express themselves. (Cass - mentor) The mentor must provide the drive initially as the mentee gains confidence. However a mentor should provide guidance and not impose. When I first started I was terrified of making mistakes. (Brandon - mentee) His guidance has helped me decide what I want to pursue as a career. (Nick - mentee) I don’t feel so shy and out of place anymore. (Ramarley - mentee) The mentor needs to understand temperament, personality and young people’s development and focus on solutions not problems. You start with a blank canvas, without preconceived notions or ideas of how to do things. (Andrew - mentor) See the potential in each young person … make sure there is a noticeable goal they are achieving. (Mark - mentor) Mentor training can make a difference. Participate in mentor training - it will really help! I started focusing a lot more on what my mentee wanted to get out of work experience. (Cass - mentor) Mentor training has helped me see and understand things from A’idatun’s perspective. You get so used to being in a workplace and knowing how things work that you forget what it must be like to be the new person. Undertaking the training has allowed me to be more open and welcoming. (Sarah - mentor) There is value investing in the next generation. When the opportunity came up I was really excited.
(Jacob - mentee)
He started work experience at a time when we were a bit undermanned, and while he couldn’t fill the gap completely, it’s certainly helped having him around. (Dennis - mentor) The last thing I want to see is these kids cut adrift… I’d like to run into any one of them in ten years time, ask them how they’re going and have them tell me that they’re going well. That would give me pleasure. (Mark - mentor)
From Left: Katelyn Clarkson, Luke Clarke, Jacob Marshall, Brandon Jones, Nicholas Lynch, Carmel Starcevich, Scott Johnson and Mahalia Councillor 22
Brandon & Andrew Brandon - Mentee. “It’s brilliant. I absolutely love it,” says Brandon, now a first year apprentice baker in a busy Geraldton shopping centre. Brandon moved from Perth for a “fresh start” in 2011 after having some trouble with school and began attending the LEAP program in Geraldton. A short time before Christmas in 2012, Brandon’s mother approached Andrew Golding, the owner and manager of Baker’s Delight in Geraldton to see if there was any opportunity for Brandon to do work experience. Andrew’s response was emphatic. “He can come in for a few days, see how he likes it. We’ll see how he goes and I can’t promise anything but there may be the opportunity for an apprenticeship.” Brandon recalls how nervous he was on his first few days at Baker’s Delight. “When I first started I was terrified of making mistakes.” Eight months on, he says he’s grown a lot more comfortable and confident as time has gone along. That’s not to say he doesn’t still make mistakes. “The other day I put the wrong kind of water in a big batch of dough and ruined the lot.” He says he felt terrible at the time, but realises that mistakes do happen and it’s okay as long as you learn from them. “Andrew works us hard and expects high standards but he has a business to run. It’s helped me to learn a lot of things.” Brandon says he has loved learning new skills, a statement that extends beyond just learning to be a baker. With his mum currently working in Port Hedland, Brandon says he’s had to learn pretty quickly how much grocery shopping costs. Baker’s Delight is Brandon’s first proper job, and having his own money has meant he’s had to learn to budget. He also says he now has colleagues and mentors to talk to about any problems or issues, something he has never really had before.
Andrew - Mentor “You can tell pretty quickly whether it’s going to work out or not,” says Andrew Golding, the owner and manager of Baker’s Delight in Geraldton. He says he’s had a number of potential employees come and go before Brandon that didn’t work out for various reasons. Sometimes it’s work ethic, sometimes its presentation or mind-set. He said Brandon’s attitude was good from the get-go. He turned up early on his first day, dressed and ready to start, and he’s done the same every day since. Andrew concedes that working with and mentoring young people is not without its challenges, but believes there are very real rewards in investing in youth. “Like any apprentice, and particularly young people, there’s certain things you have to reinforce multiple times before they really sink in.” He says that a real benefit is that you start with a blank canvas, without pre-conceived notions or ideas of how to do things. One of the greatest rewards was seeing the progression from that nervous first week, to the end of the apprenticeship when a young apprentice receives their trade certificate. “There’s a definite trust and loyalty that you seem to develop in the process.” Andrew agrees that he pushes the apprentices hard and stays on their case to achieve quality. He believes this is important from a business point of view, but also essential to the professional and personal development of young people. And on Brandon: “I’m really happy with the decision to take him on. He’s going to make a good young baker.”
He believes that starting an apprenticeship has given him a real sense of direction and purpose. “It’s helped me learn what it means to be an adult. I feel like I’ve found somewhere I belong.” And on his decision to move from Perth: “It’s the best thing I ever did. I realise now that change can be good.”
Ethan & Paul Ethan says that in the middle years of high school he didn’t really know what he wanted to do, until “I did a technical drawing subject at school, and I found that it was something that I got, something that came quite easily.” From there, a teacher from Strathalbyn Christian College referred Ethan to Paul Connolly, an Architectural Draftsman and small business owner who has worked in the Geraldton area for over 27 years. Paul agreed to take him on one day a week for work experience. Now, more than a year later, Ethan is still working with Paul for a day a week on school-based work experience. “He’s part of the business while he’s here,” Paul says. “I introduce him to any clients or visitors that come in. He has a key and access to the office if I’m not here. We try to keep the work for him as interesting as possible.” Paul takes Ethan on site visits, lets him shoot levels and do some hands-on building work. He even brought Ethan along to court to settle a complaint from one of Paul’s clients. “There’s the business side of being a draftsman that they just don’t teach you in any courses. Here, Ethan can see the whole picture.”
In the past, Paul has had work experience students come in for a solid week block, but says that he much prefers the longer-term, one day a week format that he’s had with Ethan. As a small business owner, when Paul finds himself committing a whole week to a student, productivity goes down the drain. Secondly, there isn’t the opportunity to establish a proper relationship in such a short timeframe. There is certainly a rapport and trust that’s developed between the two over time. “When Ethan started here he was pretty quiet and shy. I’ve really seen him come out of his shell.” Paul says he doesn’t think he’d ever say no to taking on a work experience student, though he doesn’t actively look for them either. “I prefer it if the student takes the initiative in seeking out a work experience placement. To me that’s another feather in their cap.”
Ethan, now in year twelve, says that Paul’s guidance as a mentor has helped him to decide that drafting is something he wants to pursue as a career. “They don’t run a drafting course at Durack anymore, so it’s really the only opportunity to learn the skills and get experience doing drafting in Geraldton.” But being a mentor is a two-way street. Paul says that when Ethan started work experience, Paul had only been using AutoCAD, a computer design and drafting tool for a couple of years, and Ethan showed him features of the program that he didn’t know were possible.
Dylan & Bruce Dylan - Mentee. Originally from Exmouth, Dylan moved to Geraldton after getting into trouble back at home, sometimes with the local police. Honest and forthright, Dylan says that school just doesn’t suit him. He finds that in a classroom he gets bored and distracted easily and tends to disturb himself and others. In April 2013 he started doing work experience a few hours a week at Geraldton TV and Radio, an electronics sales and repairs store that has been operating locally since 1969. When he first started he thought he would get bored really quickly working at the shop, but he says he has found that it keeps both his hands and his mind busy on problem solving. The shop’s owner, Bruce Muirhead, sets him tasks like pulling apart televisions, radios, projectors and gaming consoles. “The first day I had to sit down and just put things in order. It was pretty boring but I stuck with it and put on a face like I was interested.” But Dylan says that as he’s done a greater variety of work, it’s gotten better and better and he’s found he’s really started to enjoy it. “I like that it’s physical and I can keep my hands busy. I don’t really like working in a classroom. If I’m not interested in something I really struggle to keep on track. I think it helps not having peers and mates around. I can stay on task and don’t get distracted so easily.” While he’s worked with a number of technicians and staff members in Geraldton TV and Radio, Bruce has made the biggest impression. “Bruce is an older guy but he’s quite forgiving and kind. He doesn’t speak down to me like some people do… He’s asked if I want to come in for a full day sometimes which is pretty good.”
Bruce - Mentor When asked about Dylan, Bruce’s first response is, “He’s a likeable young lad.” While he’s at Geraldton TV and Radio, Bruce gives him a range of different jobs, from sweeping floors to pulling apart television sets or soldering parts under the supervision of staff. “While he’s here we just treat him like a worker.” Bruce says that in the short term employees or mentors don’t necessarily get a lot out of taking on a mentee. “They can come in and do some of the fiddly jobs that the technicians don’t like doing.” But sometimes there are longer-term benefits: “I’ve had one previous work experience student that I’ve just put on full time.” Bruce says he’s always found it important to support young people, and says he’s happy to have Dylan come in and help out anytime. Whether it’s a few extra hours while he’s on school-based work experience, or after school when he has some spare time. Bruce says he had one guy start with him that had a terrible memory, was no good at school, couldn’t spell and wasn’t particularly good at maths. But he was good with his hands. The same guy has now been an employee at Geraldton TV and Radio for five years and is a certified technician. So for anyone tentative about taking on the role of a mentor for work experience students or young people in general, Bruce’s advice: “Just give them a go.”
While he does enjoy fixing things, Dylan says he’s not too sure what he wants to do for a career, but he says that work experience has definitely been a positive experience for him. “If I can get a some new skills and maybe a referee out of it, then I think it’s been really worth doing.”
Nick & Dennis Nick - Mentee. In April 2013, Nick began work experience under Dennis, the Information Technology Manager at the City of Greater Geraldton. Dennis runs a small team of IT professionals, all of whom worked with and mentored Nick while he was on work experience. Nick was assigned a wide range of tasks from helping to troubleshoot computer problems, to setting up hardware and software. This ranged from keyboards, mouses and monitors to helping set up a computer lab. Nick says that the hands-on nature of the work and the assistance provided by Dennis’ team has been much more suited to him than going straight to Durack to do an IT course. Nick is a fairly shy and reserved young man and was naturally a little nervous when he started. He says that while at first it felt a bit full on and overwhelming going straight into a nine-to-five workplace, the team that he has worked with have been very accommodating. “They are really friendly and always happy to help out.” Nick says he has taken a lot out of the experience and says that he definitely started feeling more confident as the weeks progressed and he learnt more skills. He says the part he has enjoyed most is being able to help people when they have a problem. Nick says that the guidance of Dennis and his team and the experience of being in a workplace have also helped him to decide that IT is the right job for him, and says he would like to start looking for either employment or a traineeship in the industry.
Dennis - Mentor “Nick started work experience at a time when we were a bit undermanned, and while he couldn’t fill the gap completely, it’s certainly helped having him around.” Dennis agrees that Nick was a bit withdrawn at first but certainly opened up over the course of his six weeks of work experience. A number of staff mentored Nick over this period, and they all had positive reports. Dennis says Nick was a fast learner and by the second week he had the hang of most of the work he was assigned and could do a lot of things with only a small amount of guidance. Dennis says he is always happy to take on work experience students and believes it is important to offer support and experience for the younger generation. He says that he can directly relate to the difficulties faced by young people, and says that he personally had some trouble finding his feet in his early years of high school. While Dennis says it’s not always easy for smaller businesses to support work experience students, the City of Greater Geraldton is lucky to be in a position where the time spent teaching a student doesn’t affect productivity. “On his last day it actually felt like he was quitting. He really had just become one of the staff, part of the furniture.”
Jacob, Linda & Tegan Jacob - Mentee. Jacob is the perfect example of a good kid who doesn’t fit in mainstream school. He says he found regular school monotonous and repetitive. When he lost interest with schoolwork, he’d start skipping classes, which would lead to suspensions. He says that he’d come back from being suspended and get into trouble for having his hair too long, so it was a continuous cycle. But Jacob is clearly a bright kid. He’s well-spoken, enthusiastic and passionate, particularly when it comes to music. He plays a wide range of instruments, including playing bass guitar in a rock band with some friends. His taste, however, isn’t limited to contemporary music. He also has a passion for classical music and would love to learn to play the cello. Jacob previously did some work experience with Ash Collins from Opus music and says he absolutely loved the experience. Jacob seems to have an instant rapport with children. He says he’s spent a lot of time around children growing up, particularly with his sister’s kids and says he just feels comfortable being around them. Jacob says it was his sister who suggested he look into childcare. So when the opportunity came up to do work experience at a childcare centre, Jacob was really excited. Linda, the manager of Geraldton Early Learning Centre was happy to take him on for a few hours a week. “I was really nervous,” Jacob said just before he went in for his first day at the centre. ‘What if they don’t like me?” But he says once he was there, it felt as natural as always. “I just got to play games with the kids, which was great.” The second time Jacob went in for work experience wasn’t until after the school holidays, several weeks later. He says it was a great feeling when the kids recognised him right away. “Some of them ran straight up and gave me a hug. I thought they might have forgotten me after the first time.”
About his experience working with older mentors in the workplace, Jacob says, “All the carers are very bubbly and friendly and it’s a really positive environment to be in… When the two hours were up I couldn’t believe how quickly it had gone.”
Linda - Mentor Linda is the manager of the Geraldton Early Learning Centre. “As I pre-warned Jacob on the first day he came to the centre, many of the boys in here don’t have a father figure or many male role-models in their lives. Many of them live with their mother, then get dropped off at the centre and are surrounded all day by women.” Linda says that it’s not very common to see male carers in Australia, so it was good to see a young guy interested in childcare. “He was great. The kids loved him. They played lots of games and did some paintings and made some things.” Linda takes on quite a few students for work experience, mostly young people deciding whether childcare is a good career fit, or others using the experience as a stepping stone to further studies. Linda says she’s always happy to take on young people, and obviously has a wealth of experience to pass on. She says it’s sometimes as simple as having an extra pair of hands around to help out. “When Jacob had to leave, one of the boys tried following him out. I think he wanted Jacob to take him home.”
Scott & Ash Scott - Mentee. Scott is an eighteen-year-old originally from Warnambool, Victoria, who became part of the Learning Engagement and Participation (LEAP) program in Geraldton. He is a well spoken, articulate young man with plenty of drive and enthusiasm. His primary passion is music, something he says he inherited from his father who was a music teacher. Scott plays a variety of instruments and also teaches guitar a few days a week. In his own time he has a small side business as a DJ, doing shows and events around town. He also volunteers his time working casually at a local indigenous radio station, Radio MAMA. Through the LEAP program, Scott started work experience one day a week at Opus Music, a local music store owned and managed by Ash Collins. It is clear that Scott has a strong work ethic and a desire to contribute. He says he is very grateful and pleased to have the opportunity to do work experience in a field that he loves, and something that he thinks he would like to pursue as a career. While he was in the store, Ash and his employee Colin taught him a variety of skills essential to working in the retail sector, from logging stock, working the till, cleaning and maintaining instruments, to stringing guitars. Scott says that Ash and Col were always very open and he never felt shy about approaching them or asking questions. Scott would really love to study a diploma of music, but realises that there are limited opportunities in a town like Geraldton. He’s aware that at some point he might have to move to a bigger city if he’s serious about chasing music as a career. After doing work experience with Ash, Scott says he would love to get a job working in a shop like Opus Music and thinks it would be a great way to get a foothold in the industry. He says that Ash as a mentor is “very supportive, understanding and offers a lot of good advice and encouragement.”
Ash - Mentor Ash Collins is the owner and manager of Geraldton’s Opus Music and regularly takes on young people involved in workplace training programs. For both the mentor and the mentee to get the most out of the experience, Ash says there must be a significant investment of time. He suggests that ideally an employee taking on a mentoring role with a work experience participant should allow at least a half-day to a full day once per week. He believes that a full nine-to-five workday is the bestcase scenario. This amount of time allows the student to better grasp the day-to-day running of the business, it gives them a taste of working normal business hours, and most importantly it allows a relationship to form. On top of teaching young people new skills, offering advice and experience, Ash says: “My job while they’re here is to work them so hard they don’t want to leave school… They’re not here for a free ride or a day off.” Ash believes it is important to expose mentees to working life, as many young people leave school and enter the workforce underprepared for the rigors of full time employment. Ash is a strong believer in local communities supporting local business and vice versa. He says that after some bad experiences with participants in the past, he can understand the trepidation some employers might feel about taking on mentees in the workplace. He says it’s important to ask to meet the young person before agreeing to take them on. If they don’t seem compatible you can usually tell from the first meeting that it isn’t going to work out.
Andrew & Mark Andrew - Mentee. Andrew was referred to LEAP by a deputy principal at Geraldton Senior College and says he knows that it’s his last chance. He says he didn’t like school, was easily bored and uncomfortable which led to fights, bad behaviour and truancy. Since starting LEAP he says he’s enjoyed it a thousand times more and has hardly missed a day. When the opportunity arose to do some work experience at the Batavia Coast Maritime Institute, Andrew says he was really looking forward to it and was keen to make a good go of it. He says he’s known Mark Douglass since he was about five years old and that he’s always been a great guy. Both attending LEAP and getting out in the workplace suit him far better than being cooped up in a classroom. “The teachers don’t act like teachers, they don’t treat you like a kid.” He says he also prefers the flexibility, “You can go outside if you don’t feel like sitting in a room. You can go places for lunch. You can go down the beach during breaks.” Andrew says he’s always loved the outdoors and is interested in nature and conservation, so doing work experience with Mark is well suited to him. He’s a practical and hands on person and the jobs he’s helped to do have included planting spinifex along the dunes, doing weeding and building a chicken coop.
Mark - Mentor. Mark is a lecturer of Conservation and Land Management at the Batavia Coast Maritime Institute. He takes a group of LEAP students one day each week for a variety of conservation activities around Geraldton’s West End and the grounds of the Institute. Mark says that he makes it clear to his mentees that they’re in an adult learning environment. He knows this is asking a lot of them, given their age, but says they tend to respond positively to being treated like adults. He says that sometimes they are a bit airheaded and will make mistakes, but you just have to be patient and you can make some good progress with them. Since commencing the program he has seen the boys’ participation, involvement, interest and ability greatly improve and develop. It’s clear that Mark sees the potential in each of them.
Mark has known Andrew since he was in Primary School at Allendale and has had a bit to do with him at different times since then. “I really like Andrew. He’s a good kid… I’d give him a job tomorrow. He’s always the first one in, the first to get his hands dirty.” Whether their goal is to become a diesel mechanic like Andrew, or a plumber, carpenter or anything else, Mark’s advice to his mentees is to follow their dreams no matter what, and do what they have to do to achieve them. “I would recommend any of these kids to an employer, provided that it’s something they’re interested in. That’s important.” He says it’s also vital to have them working on projects where there’s a physical, noticeable goal they’re achieving. Projects like building a chook pen or growing coastal vegetation and planting spinifex in the dunes gives them a sense of ownership and pride when they see the final result. Mark says that he really hopes Andrew succeeds at becoming a mechanic, because in the right work environment, Andrew would be a great asset to an employer. On why he takes on the responsibility of being a mentor for young people, Mark says: “The last thing I want to see is these kids cut adrift… I’d like to run into any one of them in ten years time, ask them how they’re going and have them tell me that they’re going well. That would give me pleasure.”
Ramarley & Cass Ramarley - Mentee. Ramarley is a young mum who spends most of her time when she’s not at school with her baby son. She started work experience one day a week in the main reception of Geraldton Regional Community Education Centre and says that so far it has been a very positive experience for her. While she works in the office, Ramarley says she is lucky to have two of the LEAP staff, Laine-Rose and Karen, to look after her young son Jayzain. Ramarley has worked mostly with Cass and Pam in the office, as well as helping out many other staff that pass through during the day. Ramarley says that the women are always very nice to her and very helpful. So far she has learnt a variety of jobs including working on computers, sending faxes, photocopying, mail collection and general jobs to help out around the office. She says she has enjoyed all the tasks assigned to her so far and doesn’t feel so shy and out of place anymore. Ramarley says that after doing work experience, she thinks she would like to go on to study administration at Durack Institute of Technology and later find a job doing office or reception work.
Cass - Mentor When commencing work experience at Geraldton Regional Community Education Centre, Ramarley was welcomed as a member of the staff, completing a workplace induction under the guidance of mentor, Cass. Her on-the-job experiences included checking mail, filing, shredding, record keeping, banking, cash management skills, answering phones, sending faxes and many other jobs essential to the smooth running of an office. Ramarley is quiet natured and Cass says she appeared a little shy when she first started work experience. Over the course of her participation in the program, Cass says that Ramarley’s “confidence has really developed to the point where she eagerly practiced answering the telephones.”
A short time after taking on the responsibility of mentoring Ramarley, Cass attended a mentor training course, and says that the knowledge gained from the training was invaluable in improving her skills as a mentor. She says that in particular it helped her to realise that she should be focusing a lot more on what Ramarley wanted to get out of work experience. Cass said that after the training she identified what jobs Ramarley liked doing and what she wanted to achieve from participating in the program. Cass says that as a mentor she’s learnt a lot about communicating with young people. “Ramarley was very happy to let me know some things she wanted to learn, things that I hadn’t even thought to include… Mentors need to give them (mentees) an opportunity to express themselves.” Cass says that mentoring Ramarley has been a really enjoyable, rewarding experience. She says she has enjoyed seeing someone try new things and gain confidence. “Ramarley has always conducted herself professionally, always has a beautiful smile ready and is a pleasure to have in the office. She is also diligent and happy to have a go at any task.” Cass says that being a mentor has been a very rewarding experience for her personally. She urges prospective mentors to “participate in mentor training - it will really help!” Cass believes that “by keeping the lines of respectful communication open, you get to form a meaningful relationship with a young person that is really beneficial to both you and a young person. It really contributes something to their life and yours.”
Mahalia Mahalia - Mentee. Mahalia is from Wyndham but has lived in Geraldton since moving with her family about two years ago. She describes herself as “shy, but loud around (her) family” and says she thinks this is a result of coming from a small town where she’s used to always being around people she knows well. She says that she finds it hard to be comfortable around big groups or people she doesn’t know well. Through the Youth Connections program Mahalia had the opportunity to try work experience at several workplaces, and decided to participate to help her gain confidence and learn some new skills. She spent several weeks working in the cafeteria at Geraldton PCYC for a few hours per week and then a number of weeks in the kitchen at St John of God Hospital. Mahalia says that while she enjoyed both, she particularly liked working at the hospital because “it was always busy and there was always a lot of things to do.” In the kitchen Mahalia worked mostly under the guidance of the head chef Joyleen, cutting up veges, stirring pots, washing dishes and serving up portions of food. Mahalia’s experience has clearly made an impression on her. She was originally thinking of doing an administration or reception course next year, but says that now she is leaning more towards hospitality or aged care. She says that any student given the opportunity to participate in work experience should “choose a job they want to learn to do,” and says that, “it can really help you to decide if it’s something that you like doing.” Mahalia says that she would also like to study music. She plays guitar, sings and has even written some of her own music. Her family has told her that she is really good but she is too shy to show anyone else yet. Mahalia says that there is still a little while before course enrolments for 2014, so she has a bit of time still to think about what she will do in the future.
A’idatun & Sarah Sarah - Mentor A’idatun is a student from Geraldton Senior College. In mid-2013 she began attending a work placement at Water Corporation Midwest under the guidance of Sarah. For one day a week she would come in and work in the office, doing a range of administration tasks that included filing, data entry, collecting and distributing mail, creating posters and brochures, printing and typing word documents. Sarah says that she has seen very dramatic changes in A’idatun since she commenced work experience. “Her confidence has grown tremendously. She is also able to work around issues on her own.” Before taking on the role of A’idatun’s workplace mentor, Sarah underwent mentor training. She says it has helped her to see and understand things from A’idatun’s perspective. “You get so used to being in a workplace and knowing how things work that you forget what it must be like to be the new person.” Sarah says that undertaking the training has allowed her to be more open and welcoming. Sarah believes that in a workplace mentoring environment, it is important to have a buddy system. “There should be one person that builds a strong relationship with them (the mentee) so that they always have someone to go to.” However, Sarah says that there should also be another couple of people available to the mentee in the event that the “buddy” isn’t there. She says that it’s important for mentors to “try and relate to their mentee and try and find out what they actually want to get out of coming to work.” It is clear to see that Sarah has developed a strong rapport with her mentee over the course of the placement. “Whoever A’idatun’s next employer is, they’re very lucky to have her.”
Acknowledgements This publication has been produced as a project funded by the Youth Development and Support Program that is managed by the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations. The views expressed in this document are those of the project team and participants and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Government or State and Territory Governments. Many thanks to the young people who were integral to this project, especially for sharing their stories: Brandon Jones Scott Johnson Ramarley Oliver Dylan Drinkwater
Nick Lynch Ethan Campbell Katelyn Clarkson Andrew Scully
Aâ€™idatun Aman Jacob Marshall Luke Clarke Mahalia Councillor
This project could not have been possible without the support of employers, mentors, teachers, youth workers and others who help young people make a successful transition to work. Special thanks to: Andrew Golding, Bakers Delight Ash Collins, Opus Music Dennis Duff, City of Greater Geraldton Paul Connolly, Geraldton Drafting Services Bruce Muirhead, Geraldton TV and Radio Sarah Carson, Water Corporation Midwest Region Tegan Schulz, Geraldton Early Learning Centre Jill Bourke, Geraldton PCYC Danielle Wilton, Beachlands Primary School Joyleen and Kelley McDonald, St John of God Hospital Pam Sullivan/Cassandra Ramshaw, Geraldton Regional Community Education Centre And to the Geraldton Regional Community Education Centre teams at: LEAP, Learning Engagement and Participation Program Youth Connections Program School Business Community Partnership Broker Program
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References and additional resources My Future website www.myfuture.gov.au Australian Youth Mentoring Network http://www.youthmentoring.org.au/what-is-mentoring.html Victorian Youth Mentoring Alliance http://www.youthmentoringvic.org.au Department for Communities - Youth http://www.communities.wa.gov.au/youth Jobs Australia, Course in Mentoring Indigenous Trainees Contact Jobs Australia, http://www.jaitn.com.au Aboriginal Workforce Development Centre http://www.trainingwa.wa.gov.au/awdc Good Practice in Mentoring of Indigenous Employees Centre for Social Responsibility in Mining, University of Queensland, Brereton and Taufatofua (2010) http://www.csrm.uq.edu.au/docs/Final%20mentoring%20web%20 paper.pdf Mind Tools http://www.mindtools.com businessballs.com http://www.businessballs.com/traindev.htm#mentoring Society for Neuroscience http://www.sfn.org/ American Academy of Adolescent Psychiatry http://www.aacap.org