Bridging the Digital Divide with Australia 21 and the YWCA Canberra Clubhouse

24 November 2017

Sarah Whiting

Sarah is the Communications & Policy Intern at YWCA Canberra

On Monday 11 September, I attended and participated in the first ‘Making Our Future Work’ Workshop hosted by national think tank Australia 21 in conjunction with Young Australia 21.  

The event  

This workshop was the first of its kind and provided the chance to hear the voices of young Australians, like myself, aged 16-25 to get our thoughts and experiences on work and the future of work in Australia.  

The project arose because there was a lack of young people’s voices in this debate, particularly as this is the group that will be most affected by its outcomes going into the future. These workshops, which are essentially consultations, are taking place all over Australia, and will feed into a national dialogue with key decision makers to shape policy. 

 

My experience 

The main theme running throughout the workshop was that for young people, the future of work is both scary and exciting.

We started the workshop with personal reflections on our own experiences with work, how we felt about the work force and its future. This was followed by group discussions and brainstorming on the main issues that we felt affect young people and work in Australia and what we think our futures may hold.  

These discussions quickly showed the diversity of participants. We all had varied experiences of education, further study, work types and future goals, this greatly contributed to the dynamic discussions we had which drew from all our experiences. I could see that the future of work was going to affect each of us in different ways. The young women in the workshop – myself included – had all experienced sexism and harassment in the workplace, and particularly in insecure employment.  

This made me reflect on the further limitations or obstructions that we faced in the workforce as young people, specifically the challenges of attaining a secure position whilst having limited experience.  

 

Bridging the digital divide 

One of the reoccurring topics that came up throughout the workshop was the impact technology had on our work as young people.

Moving into the future, it’s estimated more than 50 per cent of jobs will require significant digital skills. We discussed the importance of how we, as young people, need to be competent and confident with technology with the way that the workforce is evolving.  

The ability for young people to use and access digital technology is vital to schooling and education generally, as well as participating effectively in the economy and many aspects of modern society. Empirical research demonstrates that there is a growing and persistent digital divide between students of low and high socioeconomic backgrounds.

It is clear that the digital economy will dictate a vastly different set of roles, skills and knowledge from workers, to those of the past. Children and young people need adequate access to and literacy with technology to remain relevant and competitive in today’s increasingly digitised workforce.  

YWCA Canberra is helping to bridge this digital divide through the Computer Clubhouse model. An out-of-school, high-tech learning space that empowers young people in the Tuggeranong region by working with industry mentors to develop new skills, explore their ideas, and build confidence through the use of technology.  

 

Read about the work of the Clubhouse in the latest Impact Report which is available now! 

 

Learn more about Making our future work and the research of Australia 21 and Young Australia 21 here 

 

Workshop photos: Zac Cristallo

 

 

 

 

 

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