By: Fabian Cotter, Photography by: courtesy Transdev Melbourne

AN INNOVATIVE multi-partner-backed bus driver training scheme is helping 16 new potential drivers enter the industry, addressing their long-term unemployed status in the process.

Matoc Achol is one of the drivers that have joined Transdev as part of the employment program.

Not-for-profit organisation Youth Activating Youth (YAY) is creating job opportunities during the pandemic for the 16 long-term unemployed Victorians to become bus drivers via its new Journey Maker Employment Program in January 2020, in a partnership with the Victorian Government, Transdev and Australia Industry Group.

The aim was always to create ongoing job opportunities for community members experiencing long-term unemployment; however, within weeks the program was forced to rethink its delivery strategy due to Covid-19 restrictions, which meant no physical contact with community members, Transdev explains.

"The aim of the Journey Maker Employment Program is to help disadvantaged members of our community experiencing long-term unemployment to re-connect with the workforce," said Ahmed Hassan, executive director, Youth Activating Youth.

"With Victorians facing a lengthy period of economic uncertainty due to the pandemic, it made it even more critical that we were able to provide access to retraining and up-skilling into sectors with job opportunities," he said.

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YAY worked with the Victorian state government and mobility provider Transdev to launch the program and offer extensive online interview and careers coaching to assist successful applicants and ensure that they were ready for comprehensive on-road training, Transdev explains.

The initiative received more than 180 registrations, with the Youth Activating Youth team providing one-on-one support for each applicant to prepare them for the interview process, while also facilitating online workshops on resume writing, interview preparation, and mock recorded and face-to-face interview training.

Following a thorough recruitment process, 16 applicants aged between 25 – 54 years were chosen to fill the 16 driver positions. Each applicant completed extensive on-road training for their role with a VicRoads accredited heavy vehicle training and assessment provider before completing Transdev-specific training and induction with the support of Transdev’s dedicated training team, the operator states.

Minister for Employment Jaala Pulford says the Victorian Government was proud to have backed the program through a $150,000 Jobs Victoria grant.

"We are helping to remove the barriers to employment that exist for too many people in the community," Minister Pulford said.

"Jobs Victoria will be employing hundreds of new jobs mentors, advocates and counsellors in coming months to continue to support those who need help to get back to work."

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"At Transdev, we define ourselves not by our roles or job functions but rather by the aim of being Journey Makers, a title which acknowledges the impact that each one of our 5,800 employees across Australia and New Zealand have in helping to shape customers journey[s] and experience on public transport," said Paul Birch, Transdev chief People and Culture officer.

"We are immensely proud to welcome the 16 new recruits into our workplace. And, as a team of people serving people, we are proud to be partnering in a program that supports jobs, encourages greater diversity, and leads to greater inclusion within our community and workplace," Birch added.

Hassan states that companies hiring long-term unemployed have reportedly experienced higher retention rates and greater workforce loyalty, which could be an unexpected competitive edge in an increasingly challenging market.

"The Journey Maker Employment Program has helped to show the benefits and positive effects of hiring disadvantaged members of our community and involving them in the workplace, and we look forward to working with more corporations on similar initiatives" said Hassan.

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