South West LLEN fears for a lost generation in education and hopes to re-engage students

A SOUTH-WEST based group fears youth disengagement from education and training will create a “lost generation”. 

South West Local Learning and Employment Network (LLEN) says figures released this week show more than 10,000 students in years 9 to 11 disengage from education and training each year and a further 6000 drop out within 12 months of transferring to  the vocational education and training (VET) system. 

South West LLEN acting chief executive officer, Helen Bayne, said the concerns were even more relevant in the south-west and other regional areas where levels of disengagement are higher than average.

On Track data, which follows the destinations of exiting students, shows the south-west region has lower than state average university uptake and the rate of year 12 attainment is substantially below the rest of Victoria.

“Completely dropping out of education, training or employment is leaving many young people rudderless,” Mrs Bayne said.

“Across the state the number of young people in this situation is growing and anecdotally we believe the figures are even more alarming in our region.”

The Great South Coast Group is tackling the issue head-on, launching the year 12 attainment program earlier this year. 

Group chairman and Corangamite Shire mayor Chris O’Connor said research had shown significant and generational change was needed if there was to be any hope of boosting year 12 or equivalent attainment rates. 

“Our region’s low education outcomes have huge ramifications for us as a region — for the health and wellbeing of our people and for our ability to meet our workforce demands,” Cr O’Connor said. 

“We are very firm in our belief that this is not just an issue for our schools.

“It’s the responsibility of every single one of us, whether we are a parent, a teacher, a government official, a welfare worker, a police officer or any other person living and working in the Great South Coast.” 

Corangamite Shire has proposed to contribute $10,000 to the program in its 2014/15 draft budget. 

Mrs Bayne said the Great South Coast Education Attainment project was trying to tackle the problem.

“Education attainment is now seen as a priority issue in this region and South West LLEN is involved in the attainment project and is supporting a whole-of-community approach to help our young people to reach their potential,” she said.

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