NEARLY 700 teenagers are at risk of homelessness, unemployment and crime across the south-west.
The figures released by Skills Victoria also reveal up to 350 youths in Warrnambool alone are not enrolled in school or employed.
Warrnambool’s WAVE school, which aims to get them back on track to school or training, is leading a campaign to find out what is behind the problem. Less than 50 young people are enrolled at WAVE.
Co-ordinator Damian Farley said a generation of unskilled young people were facing an uphill battle to find work.
“There’s a whole lot of kids out there who don’t go to school at all, they don’t go to TAFE and they’re not coming to a place like this,” Mr Farley said.
Starting this week WAVE will use a simple idea — placing a blackboard at key sites around the city asking a simple question: “What would it take for you to go back to school?”
“They may be distrustful or just over school — but this is a non-confrontational way of engaging with them,” Mr Farley explained.
Silly comments or crude remarks will inevitably be chalked but there are hopes honest insights could give the school a starting point.
“It recognises that there is a whole cohort of young people who aren’t sitting in school and that something needs to be done. We’re looking at a group who are resisting connecting or are simply being missed,” Mr Farley said.
Project officer Jen Whitwell said poverty was a problem but there were still missing pieces to the problem.
“It’s obviously not working,” she said.
The blackboard will be used over the summer with hopes it might encourage people to enrol into a new school year.
“We’ve had to take into consideration who can read and who can write,” Ms Whitwell said.