How Generation Australia is reinventing training-to-employment services

Photo credit: Generation Australia

Generation Australia is part of a global network of not-for-profit education-to-employment services that are transforming lives and working towards systemic employment change. It is also the recipient of a multi-year Macquarie Group Foundation grant that has helped support the organisation develop tech and healthcare training programs for people facing barriers to employment. 

Generation Australia is an education-to-employment training provider that upskills individuals experiencing barriers to entering or staying in the workforce. Part of a global network operating in 16 countries, its relationship with Macquarie Group began in 2017, when Macquarie staff worked pro bono with the organisation to determine the feasibility of establishing a Generation program in Australia.

To date, the organisation has helped re-train a range of people, including young people struggling to secure a job, career changers, women returning from maternity leave or career breaks, migrant workers new to the Australian workforce and hospitality workers laid-off during COVID-19.

“Our recruitment partners help us target people from low socioeconomic backgrounds, who may be experiencing intergenerational unemployment, to help break that cycle,” explains Erin Brindley, who is Head of Programs for Generation Australia. “We also work with refugees and recent migrants who may need to upskill, and we are embarking on a project working with First Nations Australian communities.”


Connecting training with employment to solve a growing problem

With the employment landscape changing dramatically in recent years, and roles required and skill sets evolving, young people are increasingly affected, as are mid- and late-career employees. Research shows that around 10 per cent of young people are not engaged in education, employment or training, and a further 20 per cent of young people are underemployed1. Globally it is estimated 375 million workers of all ages need to learn new skills by 2030 or risk being out of work2.

Generation Australia is looking to overcome this challenge by intentionally upskilling people to work in roles where there is projected to be a long-term shortage.

“On one side, unemployment is a widespread issue for youth globally and, on the other, employers have difficulty finding and retaining the talent that they need,” explains Erin.

In 2019, the Macquarie Group Foundation provided catalytic funding for Generation Australia’s launch, which initially involved helping people into a career in disability services. Three years on, the program has expanded to all ages, adding tech courses that allow people to retrain as cloud practitioners, junior web developers or Salesforce developers.

Generation Australia partners with employers to create valuable training programs where there are actually jobs, in growth industries like tech and healthcare. Being demand-led, and data-driven, underpins all the training programs we offer.” 

Erin Brindley
Head of Programs for Generation Australia

Growing a multi-faceted partnership

Generation Australia’s goals have numerous synergies with the Macquarie Group Foundation Australian grant making strategy3, which focuses on achieving better youth employment outcomes.

Erin describes Macquarie as a cornerstone partner and believes the relationship has grown to become multifaceted and hands-on, stretching far beyond the unrestricted four-year grant commitment.

“Macquarie's funding is untethered, which has been crucial for a developing organisation like ours,” Erin notes. “This financial support has been pivotal in ensuring we could grow from a startup to scaling the organisation, gaining skill sets, building partnerships and developing curriculum.”

“It’s the perfect funding relationship because it’s a real working partnership and the Macquarie Group Foundation listens. We check-in regularly and can connect with skilled volunteers and people in Macquarie’s network.”

Not all the provided support is at the macro level as Macquarie Group staff are also personally involved. Freeke van Son from Macquarie’s Risk Management Group is a Board Member and Romain Cardon from Banking and Financial Services currently sits on an Advisory Board.


Changing lives through employment

The data-driven methodology that underpins Generation Australia’s programs was informed by a study of over 150 education-to-employment programs globally.

“Data is embedded in the centre of our seven-step methodology - from deciding which programs to run to learning feedback,” Erin says. “We care about the breadth, depth and quality of the impact.”

Having served close to 1,000 students, the programs boast an 80 per cent graduation rate, and 60 per cent of graduates are employed within three months. Post-employment retention is an impressive 100 per cent.

“We’re making changes to individual lives through these training programs by supporting people to obtain and stay in employment and carve out a career,” Erin explains. “But what we really hope for is systemic and policy change.”

“There are parts of the system around employment that are broken which mean it's harder for some people to succeed without extra support. So we partner with other similar education-to-employment organisations, and train them on our methodology.

“We also want to work with employers, to build more education-to-employment pathways and greater understanding of the benefits of a diverse workplace.” 

Bringing the funding relationship full-circle, Macquarie Group recently employed its first Generation Australia graduate in Australia, and conversations are underway to identify additional employment opportunities within the business.

Photo credit: Generation Australia


A holistic approach to achieving long-term career success

Generation’s ‘bootcamp-style’ courses are delivered over four-to-12 weeks in a virtual classroom and include a balance of theory and practice. All students receive one-on-one mentoring and are supported with soft skills training, CV and interview practice. They are also connected with potential employers and an alumni network.

“Our employers say that the graduates are more prepared for their roles and are adding value from the day they start work,” Erin says. Generation measures impact by looking at student wellbeing, income increase, and net promoter scores. However, Erin describes employment as its ‘north star metric’.

“Many training programs measure graduation, and while this is important we don’t consider our job is done until each student is employed and stays employed,” she explains. “Employment doesn’t always happen directly on graduation, so we are committed to working with them to make it happen. “Our focus is on setting people up for long-term career success.”