The Industry Employment Initiative

The Industry Employment Initiative was established to demonstrate, test and scale a new approach to support young people around Australia who are long-term unemployed, or at risk of long-term unemployment, into sustainable work.

Program Area:
Fair - Community Wellbeing
Melbourne, VIC; Darwin, NT
Project Dates:
January 2014 - December 2015


Long-term unemployment in Australia has reached its highest level in a decade. Young people experience unemployment at double the rate of the general population and account for a quarter of Australia's long-term unemployed.   At the same time, only 7% of employers use the government funded employment system to recruit staff. 

The Industry Employment Initiative (IEI) was established in 2014 to demonstrate, test and scale a new approach to support young people around Australia who are long-term unemployed, or at risk of long-term unemployment, into sustainable work. Social Ventures Australia developed a demand-led employment model in collaboration with employers, service providers, funders and the Business Council of Australia (BCA).

Since launching, the IEI has collaborated across sectors to support long-term unemployed job seekers into sustainable employment. The program has worked with some of Australia's largest employers including Goodstart Early Learning, Coles, Marriott Hotels and Radisson Hotels.

To date, the program has provided 75 job seekers with the opportunity to participate in pre-employment training and work experience activities linked to a real job.

Aims & Objectives

The aims and objectives for the IEI Youth Pilot are:

  • To create new and real employment pathways for disadvantaged jobseekers across Australia. By engaging up to 125 young people who are at risk of or long-term unemployed.
  • To enable large employers to understand the best practice requirements needed to create jobs and training for people who are disadvantaged in the labour market
  • To support the redesign of the employment and training system. By developing the evidence base to prove up a demand-led employment model and advocate for policy change in the current government employment system.


The IEI is delivered through a collaboration with the Brotherhood of St Laurence, Jesuit Social Services, Mission Australia and Social Ventures Australia with support from the Business Council of Australia. 

The IEI Youth Pilot had three main stages:

Stage 1: Co-design by employers and service providers

A co-design process with employers is undertaken to create a tailored employment pathway and a framework that identifies the levels of support required at each stage for each youth participant. 

Stage 2: Service delivery of pre-employment training and support, work placements and post placement support

Candidates were screened and selected based on their aspirations and willingness to work, they then undertook tailored pre-employment training and work experience and if successful, commenced with the employer during which time they received post-placement support.  

Stage 3: Evaluation & Advocacy

This stage involves evaluating the pilot's success through the collection of short-term and longitudinal data. This data will be used to support the case for using successful demand-led interventions and inform how we scale the program and underpin our advocacy for future government funding and long-term systemic change.


The program thus far has provided 75 job seekers with the opportunity to participate in pre-vocational training and work experience all linked to a real job. Throughout the program, employment placement outcomes for the IEI are significantly higher for most indicators than Job Services Australia.

In addition to great employment outcomes, employers have stated that the quality of IEI applicants is on par with those referred through standard recruitment companies. By presenting IEI candidates with industry specific skills and aspirations that match positions on offer, the aim of designing pathways that meet the recruitment standard and need of employers has been successful.


With the final pilot programs being delivered, including a regional program in Geelong with Coles, the IEI will continue to deliver positive employment outcomes for job-seekers whilst also meeting the recruitment needs of employers.

The efficacy of the model was recently recognised by the Victorian Government who offered significant funding to support the IEI's expansion over three years as part of the Jobs Victoria Employment Network (JVEN). JVEN will allow for up to 220 disadvantaged job-seekers to access employment and help the IEI continue to build the evidence to influence changes to the Federal government's employment services contract in 2020.

Simon Crabb, Project Manager, Industry Employment Initiative

It is rare – but hopefully less increasingly so – to support a project that captures so comprehensively what good philanthropy can and should be doing. The grantee approached The Ian Potter Foundation with a question in 2012: how do you turn the failing employment support sector on its head and prioritise both the needs of the employer and build on the skills of employees in a supportive and sustainable way?

The Foundation took up the challenge to provide the grantee with the networks and resources to address that question. A forum with other Foundations in Melbourne was convened and a group of funders provided the seed grant for the initial pilot; then a second grant was made to continue the pilot project. The Industry Employment Initiative has now demonstrated that disadvantaged youth can gain and maintain meaningful employment if supported in a holistic and engaged way.

The Foundation was extremely pleased to see the IEI receive substantial funding from the Victorian Government to expand the successful model to Geelong. This project is truly a case study of how an innovative idea in conjunction with a group of funders can result in a successful program tackling a long-standing issue in a sustainable way – philanthropy at its best. This project now provides a model that can be replicated with ongoing government funding.

Dr Alberto Furlan, Program Manager


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