“It’s that realistic impossibility of needing experience to find work and needing work to get experience.”
Former youth worker turned Youth in STEM Champion at Scitech, Zach Gibson’s focus has always been on young people and their employment opportunities – an increasingly large issue that he and his mates are no strangers to.
“Youth unemployment is the common reality for all young people and it can be a huge barrier to important opportunities,” the 25-year-old said.
“In a group of my mates, one of us is always working hard to secure employment and you can see the exhaustion when you are asking them week by week ‘how’s the job hunt going?’.
“Their answers are a mixture of ‘I can’t tell you how many cover letters I had to write this week for jobs that are expecting 5 years’ experience for an entry level position’ or ‘I think my degree might be useless’,” Zach explained.
It was a combination of Zach’s personal experience and his professional work at Scitech that pricked his interest in YMCA’s Why Not? campaign.
“Young people are that inexhaustible source of contemporary thought and forward thinking, really they need to be the people who are part of the conversations that will shape our future,” Zach said.
“In a lot of ways the Why Not? campaign creates a united and informed forum for discussion that you would have to actively try to ignore. If the voices of young people weren’t crystal clear before, I’m hoping that they can be now.”
Zach expressed his hope that in the future, more of this dialogue can enable changes to be made to policy so that adulthood won’t be the only qualifier for contributing to conversations about our nation’s future. “There’s always been this fear of young people and it’s reflected very clearly on how often they’re excluded from decisions, especially decisions relating directly to or affecting their future,” Zach said.
“They’re refused to be seen as the leaders or innovators of the future, they’re not a part of those conversations when their voice means the most right now, especially with the three issues highlighted in Why Not?.”
As the Youth in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Champion at Scitech, Zach aims to get more youth involved with STEM to make them more equipped to deal with life in general, given how the future is looking.
“In terms of youth unemployment, if nationally we can focus on directing and supporting young people to take transferable skills in to the industries that are growing, we will see them be better equipped to deal with the future workplace and in fulfilling careers,” Zach said.
“As a STEM education industry leader, Scitech continues to seek opportunities to take part in national dialogue, such as Why Not?, where we can be scientific about how we approach issues especially around young people where there’s a clear imbalance. We want to be part of rebalancing the values, giving young people the opportunity to speak up.