An ambitious plan to create opportunities for the region's young people was launched in Shepparton yesterday by David Gonski.By Sophie Malcolm
An ambitious 20-year plan unveiled in Shepparton yesterday aims to create a brighter future for the region’s young people.
The Lighthouse Project, an initiative of the city’s business, non-profit and education leaders, will bring together ‘‘community champions’’ to support children in education and training from ‘‘cradle to career’’.
The project, launched by the chairman of the Federal Government’s Review of Funding for Schooling, David Gonski, is modelled on a similar project in the United States.
Sir Andrew and Lady Fairley Foundation chairman Andrew Fairley said although the local area received more than $5
‘‘I think that there’s certainly concern about the indicators of Shepparton’s school retention rates, the number of kids completing VCE successfully (and) the number of young people who are going on to post-secondary degrees,’’ Mr Fairley said.
‘‘School retention rates are not improving, we’re one of the lowest school retention rate areas in the state.
‘‘The statistics on post-secondary engagement with higher education, whether it be a trade school, whether it be university, are lower than the state average.
‘‘We have to stop kids falling through the cracks.’’
Fellow community champion Adam Furphy said City of Greater Shepparton had seen a shift from manufacturing to service-based businesses.
‘‘In the past, the ready availability of low-skilled work meant many people did not necessarily need to finish school or go on to study to secure good jobs. In recent years the pool of those low-skilled jobs has been shrinking,’’ Mr Furphy said.
‘‘As a community we need to have more of our students emerging from their school years with better outcomes — whether this means university, a trade, or other vocational pathway.
‘‘Too many leave school early with no plan or means of establishing a valued or rewarding career. Improved outcomes for Shepparton’s young people will lead to a vibrant commercial sector as well as wealth creation for the people of the community.’’
Community Fund Goulburn Valley chief executive Lisa McKenzie said while the project was new, there was strong support to invest in the region’s young people.
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