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An electronic journal for leaders in education
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The Guaranteeing Futures Area Taskforce Initiative in Tasmania

Special report

This report is sourced from the Guaranteeing Futures Area Taskforce Initiative Discussion Paper and other Tasmanian Department of Education documents hyperlinked in the text.

The Tasmanian Government is setting up area taskforces aimed at improving post-compulsory education, training and employment opportunities for young people in the State. The taskforces, part of the Guaranteeing Futures Area Taskforce Initiative, will develop, implement and monitor action plans which support young people aged 15 to 24 to move from Year 10 towards meaningful participation in their communities as adults.

To encourage community input, the State Government has launched a discussion paper on the initiative. There are many individuals, groups and organisations interested in supporting young people make the move from Year 10 to further education, training and employment. The discussion paper asks questions such as who must be included on an area taskforce, how area taskforce members can be supported, and whether area taskforces should be developed from existing partnerships.

There are a number of ways in which an area taskforce might operate. Options range from an incorporated association to a loosely structured community of practice. The discussion paper presents some models of operation and invites community feedback on how the taskforces should operate. Submissions close on Thursday 30 June 2005.

Background

The Area Taskforce initiative is part of the State Government’s comprehensive strategy for post-compulsory education and training, Tasmania: A State of Learning, launched by Education Minister Paula Wriedt MHA in December 2003. Besides improving young people’s participation in education and training beyond compulsory schooling, this long-term strategic framework aims to enable second chance learning opportunities for people of all ages; to build a skilled workforce with the capacity to support business and industry in a growing economy; and to create communities that value lifelong learning.

The strategy encompasses four key elements: Guaranteeing Futures, Ensuring Essential Literacies, Enhancing Adult Learning, and Building Learning Communities. Each element comprises a number of intended outcomes and a range of initiatives to achieve them. The Tasmanian Government has committed more than $20 million over four years to State of Learning implementation, including $15 million for Guaranteeing Futures initiatives.

Guaranteeing Futures

The Area Taskforce initiative falls within the Guaranteeing Futures element of the strategy, which aims to meet the needs of young Tasmanians in transition from compulsory education to independent young adulthood.

Over time, Guaranteeing Futures will:

  • assist young people plan, prepare and make informed choices about their post-school destinations
  • support young people at risk of disengaging from education and training
  • establish a broad range of flexible education and training pathways of relevance to all young people and to the communities in which they live.

The Area Taskforce initiative

By 2008, young people in Tasmania will be required under the Youth Participation in Education and Training (Guaranteeing Futures) Act 2005 to participate in education and training beyond Year 10. The Area Taskforce initiative aims to support young people aged 15 to 24 years in complying with the legislation by fostering a shared community responsibility for their engagement in post-Year 10 education, training and employment. Taskforces will provide a framework for a range of stakeholders to collaborate on local strategies to support young people in transition.

Apart from supporting young people to comply with the Guaranteeing Futures Act, the taskforces will identify and advise on issues relating to post-Year 10 transition, and to inform policy makers about state-wide or regional barriers to transition.

The Area Taskforce initiative draws on the experience of community partnerships that have been established in a number of States to support young people move from school to work, or further education and training. Victoria has established a network of incorporated associations known as Local Learning and Employment Networks (LLENs), while Queensland has adopted a less structured partnership model in developing its Education and Training Reforms for the Future (ETRF) trial areas. The key feature of both these partnerships is the involvement of a diverse range of agencies and groups concerned with young people.

Implementing the initiative

By early 2006, a taskforce will be operational in each of the North, South and Cradle Coast areas of Tasmania. Each taskforce will develop an action plan that identifies transition support goals and strategies for that area.

An important means of achieving locally meaningful planning and implementation is to involve all relevant community groups in the decision-making process. These groups include those that contribute to transition support, such as industry, parents, education and training providers, and youth services.

Young people must also be involved, including those who face significant barriers to accessing post-Year 10 opportunities, for example young single parents, young people living in rural and remote regions, and young offenders. Many young people face obstacles in pursuing their post-Year 10 education, training and employment pathways. Obstacles can range from difficulty in accessing transport to barriers associated with a particular disability. Stakeholder representation and engagement in a taskforce should reflect the full range of transition support needs in the area.

Taskforces will also be established within, or work closely with, networks of pre-existing partnerships that influence transition support. In some cases, existing partnerships may share similar objectives to the taskforces and may have the potential to be the base from which an area taskforce is developed.

Challenges for area taskforces arising from a volunteer membership include:

  • providing value for volunteer members through role assignment and/or recognition of contributions
  • pressure on employed representatives to demonstrate the benefits of their involvement to their employer
  • difficulty in attracting representation from some community interest groups
  • barriers faced by rural participants such as travel to meetings and communication of initiatives back to the community
  • reliance on 'the same people' and the associated 'burnout' issues.

Stakeholder representatives are likely to vary in their skills and knowledge of collective decision making and governance. Some may need more support than others to participate on an equal basis. The level of formality of taskforce processes will influence the ability of members to contribute. Keeping structures and processes to a minimum, for example, may mean that loosely-defined decision-making processes are dominated by the most vocal group. On the other hand, a rigidly formal structure may demand a higher skill level from participants, and might discourage some less experienced representatives from contributing. 

Some participants will be coming together to collaborate for the first time: others may be competitors in other settings. It is important that these challenges are acknowledged, and that time is taken to develop the relationships necessary for a cooperative approach to transition support.

 

KLA

Subject Headings

School and community
Vocational education and training
Vocational guidance
Senior secondary education
Transitions in schooling
Educational evaluation
Educational planning
Education policy
Curriculum planning
Tasmania