Story of a mentor: why you might like to join her

Think back to when you were in Year 10. Did anyone give you advice on where your strengths or passions could lead you in the world of work?

When you were in Year 11 or 12, was there someone who encouraged you, told you that you could achieve whatever you set your mind to?

For many people, the answer to these questions is “no” – including Sales Manager Kellie Laguzza. It’s one of the reasons she decided to get involved with Beacon Foundation’s career mentoring program, MyRoad.

“When I was in Year 10 this was definitely not something they did. I had no direction at school, no idea what I wanted to do.”

Kellie spoke to Beacon Foundation just after she finished her first session as a volunteer mentor, in which she was connected with a small group of young women via video conferencing.

“I really loved it. I was really nervous but I was very open with the girls by telling them it was my first session.”

Kellie searched out a volunteering opportunity for herself and her workplace team. She works for Sage Software Australia and is an Ambassador for the Sage Foundation, through which employees are encouraged to take five days a year to help a charity of their choice.

Kellie says she liked the structure of Beacon Foundation’s MyRoad program and the chance to share the story of her career journey. She told the students she applied for hundreds of jobs before getting her first position.

“I think you really have to draw on your experience. The students like hearing about some of the failures you had along the way as well.”

Kellie believes the MyRoad program allows students to think about jobs they might not have thought about before. And, she says, it encourages them to identify transferrable skills they already have which are sought after by employers.

“I left them with a final thought – to think about their passions. When you find something you are passionate about, you will succeed.”

Letting her colleagues at Sage know about the program is the next step for Kellie, and she’s already booked into her second session as a mentor.

“I’ve had a lot of hurdles to overcome to get to where I am. I’m now considered very successful at what I do – but it wasn’t an easy road. If I’d had someone to support me along the way, I might have gone on a very different path to get here.”

By encouraging others to take up volunteer mentoring, Kellie hopes more young people will be able to answer “yes” to the questions that opened this article – and will go on to say yes to many and varied career opportunities.

MyRoad is a free online mentoring program aimed at engaging young women (aged 16-19) in career conversations about the world of work. Mentoring sessions run for two hours and focus on: thinking about a pathway after school, how digital technology is used in the workplace, challenges they might face in the workforce and how to navigate them, and tips on starting a career.

To get involved as a MyRoad volunteer mentor, head to this link.

“Just don’t give up – just keep going.”

Michael Kelly lives about half an hour outside Kyabram, a town in central Victoria, around two and a half hours drive from Melbourne.

Beacon Foundation’s programs have been a fixture at his school for many years, so along with his entire cohort, when Michael hit Year 10 this year, he took part in a High Impact Program (‘Polish’). These face-to-face programs, delivered with the help of local industry mentors, are designed to prepare and motivate young people for a successful post-secondary school transition.

What came as a nice surprise for Michael, was what happened during that program.

“We had lunch with a few people, one of them was a Journalist. We were talking about how I could write articles and how I could even potentially get on the radio”.

Education Support Officer at the school, Mary Livingston, says that meeting provided Michael with a ‘light bulb moment’ about where a career could take him.

 “For Michael, there’s been so much personal growth and a huge increase in his self-esteem since the Polish program”.

That confidence shone during a week of work experience which followed at The Riverine Herald, a newspaper based in nearby Echuca.

Michael says he met a great group of people; helped report on a number of community events and got to write an article about his time there, which was published in the paper with his own byline!

“It was sensational … I actually thought it was pretty great. I think it’s a very big achievement.”

Mary Livingston loves to see students participate in Beacon Foundation programs.

“They’re fabulous … and when you see results like these, the impact that it has, it’s fantastic.”

When asked what he took away from the High Impact Program, Michael answers,

“Confidence, persistence. Try to put yourself out there – just don’t give up, just keep going.”

Michael plans to keep going with his education, and isn’t limiting himself to one career idea. He’s also interested in film making, veterinary science and software engineering – and there’s travel on his radar too.

Photo credit: The Riverine Herald

Michael’s article in The Riverine Herald can be read here.

For more information about Beacon Foundation’s High Impact Programs – Prepare, Polish and Perform head to this page on our website.

Lighting the way for Australian young people

What do you get when hundreds of dedicated Vicinity Centres’ people create fundraising and awareness activities for Beacon Foundation? – well, it’s called ‘Light the Way’ and it’s just wrapped up around the country.

Vicinity Centres is one of Beacon Foundation’s fantastic partners – with shopping destinations in many communities around Australia where Beacon Foundation also has school connections. As their corporate community partner, we work with Vicinity on a number of initiatives throughout the year, including student-focused career awareness and skill development activities. The entire Vicinity team has embraced the Light the Way campaign with gusto.

Melissa Schulz, Sustainability Manager, Vicinity Centres said,

“Light the Way is an opportunity for us to engage, encourage and motivate young people in our communities and we’re especially proud to have worked alongside Beacon Foundation again this year.”

Young people were directly involved in a number of events that aimed to raise awareness of, and funds for, Beacon Foundation.

In South Australia, a work readiness activity involving Vicinity teams and students from Bowden Brompton Community School led the young people to come up with their own Light the Way fundraising idea. Their plan was to offer customers, via a gold coin donation, to deliver shopping trolleys to their car. The students’ teachers turned the activity into a complete learning exercise, asking the young people to come up with artwork, and make a flyer to promote their plan. And it turned into reality, called ‘Donate 4 Delivery’. The students loved the chance to create and lead their own campaign – taking to Instagram to promote their work.

For Beacon Foundation, seeing more than 40 of Vicinity’s centres taking part in Light the Way has been fantastic.

“The enthusiasm with which Vicinity has approached this campaign is really quite inspiring,” Beacon Foundation Chief Executive Scott Harris said.

“We feel very fortunate to have a partner like Vicinity that helps us highlight the fact that many young Australians need support to transition from education to meaningful employment.”

Light the Way included a range of events from a special movie screening, to a Buskers Battle, kids’ fun zones and face painting, to the ever-popular ‘guess the number of lollies’ in a jar, as well as sausage sizzles and a meat tray raffle. Many of Vicinity’s retailers supported the campaign too by donating products and services to the campaign.

Beacon Foundation thanks everyone involved. Your efforts will allow us to offer our work readiness programs to more young Australians.


Photo: Luke Jamieson, Centre Manager, Vicinity Centres, Tasmania, was first cook at their sausage sizzle

Beacon Foundation at the National Youth Commission

As a national organisation that supports young people in their transition from education to meaningful employment, Beacon Foundation is pleased to have had the opportunity to present its experience to the National Youth Commission, when it visited Hobart on June 4th.

The Commission, into Youth Employment and Transitions, is making its way around Australia over 18 months, hearing from organisations and individuals. It says it “seeks to bring together the expretise, ideas and experience of young people and the whole Australian community, to build a reform agenda for education and the preparation and support of young people for work now and in the future.”

After 30 years in this space, Beacon Foundation knows about the challenges facing many young people as they try to navigate their way from education to employment.

Tasmanian State Manager, Nick Probert, told the Commission that that there is no level playing field in this area.

“Many schools simply don’t have the resources to spend on effective career awareness activities. This means that students don’t get exposure to real life work situations and examples.”

“At Beacon Foundation we know the value of starting career conversations in schools and connecting students to mentors in the worlds of business and industry. We’d like to see more of this happening around the country.”

Mr Probert told Commissioners – Lisa Paul AO PSM, Major David Eldridge AM and Finbar Piper – about Beacon Foundation activities that aim to support young Australians into further education, training or employment. He said that these are taken up by many schools, which see that the activities can be linked to the Curriculum, and provide opportunities which students would otherwise be unable to access.

He also explained Beacon Foundation’s desire to reach more young people, particularly through its online work readiness and mentoring programs, MyRoad and Industry Live.

Beacon Foundation’s collective impact initiative, Collective ed., which is finding and testing ways to increase Year 12 attainment in six Tasmanian schools, was also discussed.

“Beacon Foundation hopes the National Youth Commission’s hearings really shine a spotlight on as issue so important to Australia,” Mr Probert said.

“Young people, no matter where they live, or in what circumstances, deserve the opportunity to have a productive working life, and we should all be supporting them to get there.”

The National Youth Commission will release its findings and recommendations publically.



Supporting the next generation of Australians through online mentoring – why it’s important

This article is from Beacon Foundation Chief Executive Scott Harris. 

One of the things I love about the MyRoad mentoring program is the way many of the students really seem to grow throughout the sessions in confidence and enthusiasm. It’s so great to see.

It’s great because many of the students exposed to the program really need our help.

MyRoad is a free online mentoring program aimed at young women aged 16-19, who are in Years 10-12. Volunteer mentors from different businesses, occupations and backgrounds engage with young women in conversations about the world of work. The initiative is a partnership between Coca-Cola Australia and Beacon Foundation.

We target young women in this program because many think they’re at a disadvantage compared with boys when it comes to job opportunities.  In late 2017, Core Data undertook the MyRoad Careers Survey, involving 1000 girls and women aged 15 and above. Five hundred were still in school and 500 were no longer in school. Nearly one quarter of the students believed boys at their school would have more career opportunities than girls after leaving school. Of the non-students who said they had a mentor or role model, the overwhelming majority believed that those people were important in influencing their career path, or helped them take steps towards their desired career after leaving school. Of the non-students without a mentor or role model, 74% said they wished they had someone they looked up to.

We also know that for many schools, they want to do this work, they recognise the importance of careers education but they don’t always have the mechanism or the resourcing to be able to source their won industry mentors – and so Beacon Foundation is that conduit for many to see industry and schools really thriving together.

The Mitchell Institute’s report, ‘Connecting the worlds of learning and work’ (July 2018) agrees that schools face a number of barriers to engaging with industry partners, including a lack of time.[1]

Beacon Foundation’s online team does all the work to recruit, train and connect volunteer mentors to students. The ease of this volunteering opportunity isn’t lost on our mentors. Carl Harris from Deloitte has taken part in a number of MyRoad sessions, which take a maximum of two hours each, with no ongoing commitment.

“The ease of the program is one of the absolute beauties,” he says. “You do it from your desk, you don’t have to move, it’s online, it couldn’t be any easier – and therefore the impost on your time is so much less because it is just so simple, well structured, well supported.”

Another mentor, and MyRoad Ambassador, is Emma Isaacs, Founder & CEO of Business Chicks.

“It was great to support the girls as they opened up to me about the challenges the feel when thinking about life after school. This really can be an overwhelming time, especially for those students who live in small or regional communities and don’t have access to a lot of career options.”

Emma’s words are backed up by the Independent Review into Regional, Rural and Remote Education (Discussion Paper, 2017) which stated that for these students, a “… mechanism that can be used to help build aspirations is mentorship programs.”

Another report, this one from the OECD, ‘Working it out: Career guidance and employer engagement’ (July, 2018) states that “an important purpose of career guidance is to provide young people from all backgrounds with relevant information and experiences to raise aspirations … this could help break intergenerational cycles of disadvantage.”

That report also says, “This engagement can be particularly effective in challenging negative assumptions about specific careers: who better than a woman working in engineering or construction to speak to young women about what it is really like to work in a profession where their gender is in a minority?”

And what does all this achieve?

Evidence shows that partnership activities like this “provide rich real world opportunities that spark students’ curiosity and open students to a range of new and emerging professions.”[2]

It’s another example of Beacon’s innovative, proactive nature in trying to deal with what is one of the country’s biggest issues in youth unemployment.

We want more young Australians to experience Beacon Foundation’s work. We’re aiming to have 2000 young women exposed to MyRoad this year. To do this, we need more people like you to become volunteer mentors.

As one said after her session recently, “supporting students to transition to the workplace and be work ready is such a rewarding experience. To inspire the future workforce through collaborative education and improve outcomes for young people across Australia is something we can all contribute to.”

Beacon Foundation is constantly recruiting new volunteer mentors. To start your contribution, head to


[1] Torri, K. (2018). ‘Connecting the worlds of learning and work’, Australia, Mitchell Institute at Victoria University

[2] Torri, K. (2018). ‘Connecting the worlds of learning and work’, Australia, Mitchell Institute at Victoria University


Young people encouraged to look to growth industries

Thriving industries in Tasmania are being supported to find the next generation of workers through a program run by Beacon Foundation, and highlighted on ABC Local Radio in Tasmania today.

The Growth Industries Preparation Program (GrIPP) is running in North West Tasmania, a region which has long had very high levels of youth unemployment.

Beacon Foundation’s Sonia Hodgetts, who is working on the program, told ABC Local Radio’s Mornings Host Leon Compton, that the NW region should be proud of the collaboration that exists between schools and industry.

“I’m finding that when I  approach industries to participate in this program – we’re asking them to host students on site for a day – they are more than happy. It meets the need that they are trying to promote those shortages in their areas – and we have that package that fits the bill.”

GrIPP  aims to help raise student and parent awareness of the skills shortages and career opportunities within Tasmania in five industries – Building and Construction, Tourism and Hospitality, Advanced Manufacturing, Aged and Community Services along with Food and Food Production.

Ms Hodgetts told the program that not only is youth unemployment a big issue in the region (it’s at around 15%)), but that casualisation of young people who are working means many don’t have job security.

“Part of Beacon Foundation’s program is to provide awareness, not just about job opportunities, but an opportunity to develop their careers and continue on in more substantial careers.”

Another guest on the program, Mark Smith, from Burnie collective impact group BIG, highlighted the importance of organisations working together to improve a problem that requires generational change.

“Our group is working at (the) aspirational level for young people, to try and open doors for them in terms of educational opportunities and job opportunities …  Beacon is out there delivering the programs, so pretty important that we work together, particularly in small regions.”

Also represented on the Mornings show was the University of Tasmania’s University College. It’s CEO,Lee Whiteley, explained that the College provides access to Diplomas and Associate Degrees. These can involve practical experiences in a work based setting, and lead to Bachelor Degrees.

Mr Whiteley says a lot of young people continue to fall through the cracks.

“They find it very difficult to get employment because they don’t have the right qualifications and then it really is a barrier between them and long term careers…

“What we really need is a system that gets them into a good job, keeps them in a job and lets them build a career over their entire lifetime.”

Beacon Foundation’s GrIPP days include a Site Tour, work readiness workshops supported by industry mentors. And there’s an invitation to parents and guardians to participate.

For more information email Sonia Hodgetts,

Mentoring programs highlighted in report to Government

The importance of labour market programs for young people, including mentoring programs, has been included in one of the recommendations to government in a new Senate Committee report.

The Senate Standing Committee on Education and Employment handed down its final report on the effectiveness of the Jobactive system. The Government describes Jobactive as “the Australian Government’s way to get more Australians into work. It connects job seekers with employers and is delivered by a network of jobactive providers in over 1700 locations across Australia.”

Beacon Foundation made a submission to the inquiry, largely around the need for a systems change approach to addressing joblessness – that young people need better support from government, industry, schools and the wider community to address the barriers they face to unemployment. In particular:

  • Making sure young people get the right kind of education so they have the skills needed to navigate the changing world of work,
  • Taking a proactive approach that addresses the links between education and employment, particularly addressing the lack of career education in our schools.

We also stated that there needs to be “better connection between classroom content and the workforce … so that young people can finish school with a pathway to further work or education and training.”

The report’s made 41 recommendations. Beacon Foundation is pleased to see these highlighted a number of our concerns.

“The committee recommends that the government consider appropriate ways to support providers that have developed expertise in labour market programs targeted towards young people, including mentoring programs.” Recommendation 7

Beacon Foundation Chief Executive Scott Harris says it’s good to see mentoring programs recognised as so important in supporting people in to work.

“Our mentoring programs – both face to face and online- are a hugely important part of our work. They can open up students’ eyes to a world of opportunity and stir motivation in them for their journey into meaningful work.”

The contracts of Jobactive providers are due to run out next year.

Taking the fear out of further education – students mentoring students

Fear of the unknown is common to most of us. For students thinking of heading to university, this is a pretty big unknown, and one that comes with lots of questions.

A group of Queensland students recently had their questions about university answered, in a special event organised by Beacon Foundation and Origin Energy. University students doing summer internships at Origin took on the role of mentor and were connected to 50 Year 10 to 12 students from Mabel Park State High School, St James College and Springwood State High School.  They led a Q & A session about life at university – in which any question was a good question.

Smaller group workshops were then held to talk about things like goal setting, overcoming failure and networking. This last one was put into practice during a lunch break!

The day finished with some hands on work. It showed students ways in which a university education could lead to providing practical solutions to some of the world’s problems. These revolved around solar power, water quality and healthcare.

After the activity:

  • 72% of students reported feeling more motivated, and
  • 70% said they saw more options for their career

There was more positive feedback, including this from a student:

Today I learnt a lot more about the experiences of going to university and how to prepare myself for this, and I feel that the idea of going to university is a bit less daunting and I’m very excited …

Another took away this message:

Always try had to reach your goals and always believe in yourself. There are always good pathways for everyone.

One of their teachers believed the day was:

A wonderful experience to broaden the minds of our students. Very positive and valuable.

At Beacon Foundation we believe that every young person has the right to a job, financial opportunity and a sense of personal success. We’re excited that one student’s take away message from this day was, “I can pick my own future.”


Disappointed in changes at Mitchell Institute, Victoria University

Beacon Foundation is saddened to learn of the changes at Mitchell Institute in Victoria University, which will see it cease to exist in its current form next year.  For the past five years, the Mitchell Institute has been at the forefront of educational research in Australia. They have led inquiries and campaigns around:

  • Value of early childhood education
  • Opportunity cost of educational attainment
  • Transitions into education and vocational training
  • Teaching capabilities – like 21st century learning and enterprise skills
  • Preparing young people for the future of work
  • Collaboration between the worlds of work and learning

Chief Executive, Scott Harris said the changes would be a great loss to Beacon Foundation and many other organisations that work with young people, business and industry.

“For the past 30 years, Beacon Foundation has been an advocate for building better links between school and industry. However, we are often advocating on these issues based on our own firsthand experience working in school and community.  Our organisation has benefited greatly from Mitchell Institute’s research, and have been able to draw on findings into sector wide trends and international developments in education.

It’s disappointing that the Institute as it stands is not continuing, particularly given the enormous interest and pressure on the education sector to build the skills and capabilities that young people need in a changing workforce.

We have had significant inquiries into education from David Gonski and Professor John Halsey, who have both stressed the value of school and industry collaboration to our education system.  And government is slowly beginning to respond to these challenges and looking at how our curriculum to meet these needs.

Research bodies like Mitchell Institute have been valuable for us and our stakeholders, because they have given us credible, evidence based recommendations for how we can start to build opportunities for young people. This has been done in a way that consults with organisations like Beacon Foundation, but also with educators, specialists and business and industry.  We have found that they have been able to be a real broker in bringing government, policy makers, educators and young people together to suggest change and to showcase real life examples of good practice”

Staff at Beacon Foundation wish exiting staff from the Mitchell Institute the best of success in their future endeavours.

Response to Senate Committee report – ‘Future of work and workers”


The future of the world of work in Australia is once again being highlighted, with the handing down of a Senate Committee Report. Beacon Foundation welcomes the tabled report on the ‘Future of Work and Workers’, as it brings to the attention of Government and the wider community the disconnection between education and employment that still exists.

The focus of the inquiry was to consider how the Government should respond to trends in the workplace and how we prepare workers for the changing world of work.

For 30 years Beacon Foundation has been reaching out and connecting young Australian secondary school students to the world of work. We help prepare them for the workforce by teaching them transferrable skills, giving them job seeking and career management insights, providing work experience and exposure and building networks.

Beacon Foundation is pleased the Senate Committee noted that the workforce is changing, and changing fast. We know that with globalisation and technological change, the type of work and the conditions of work are being transformed.

CEO Scott Harris argues that the greatest concern around this is the way this change is affecting young Australians, through the growing casualisation of the workforce, a decline in manual work and entry level jobs and the risk of more jobs being automated.

“Beacon Foundation has consistently advocated for better integration between business, industry and schools … this is critical for setting up young people for success.”

Mr Harris agrees with a number of the Senate Committee’s recommendations, in particular that:

  • The Australian Government establish a central body to coordinate future planning for the future of work;
  • That this central body is pro-active in developing policies for the future work force for ‘at risk workers’;
  • There are better links between industry, education providers and unions, with a focus on tailoring courses to suit future jobs growth …
  • That we work to improve links between VET and tertiary education sectors, and modify school curriculum to ensure a better integrated education system.

He supports the Committee’s recommendations that more investment and an overhaul into our education system is required to support future workers.

“These calls are echoed in the ‘Gonski 2.0 report’, and are also front and centre of the consultation in the NSW Curriculum Review,  Mr Harris says.

“It’s time for the Federal Government to be pro-active with a long term plan for the future workforce of Australia – one that considers the risks that young people are facing.”

Beacon Foundation welcomes the opportunity to collaborate with government, industry and schools to create better linkages across the community. This will see young people have the skills needed to navigate the future world of work.

For more information:

Read the full Senate Committee report here.