By Robyn Molloy

A program that matches at-risk young adults with business people to help them find long-time employment is calling for more mentors.

WA Charity United Way WA is recruiting mentors for the Mentoring 2 Work program, which is run by the Council of the Ageing.

United Way WA CEO Kath Snell, who is also participating as a mentor, says the program captures people aged 17 to 25 who are receiving a Centrelink payment and helps them with career advice and support before they spiral into poverty.

Mentors can come from any type of business and background and be located anywhere. They undergo a phone interview, police and reference checks before attending an induction and being matched with a mentee.

Mentorships run for about six months with the mentee and mentor catching up about once a week, either in person or over the phone, at a place convenient to both.

The aim is to boost confidence and help with practical skills so the mentee can go on their journey to finding full employment.

Snell has been meeting with her mentee, a year 12 graduate, once a week for about four months.

“She’s just struggled a little bit finding what’s next,” Snell says. “She’s managed to get herself a job that she’s really enjoying and is doing really well.

“Now the work I'm doing with her is asking ‘is this job right job for you? Are you getting enough hours? How would you go about talking to your manager about increasing your hours? And what is your career pathway looking like?’

“So we spend some time looking at other qualifications and just talking about what she thinks you might like to do.

“Obviously she was unemployed when she joined this particular program. I think what she needed was someone to just talk her through, and certainly the whole program has done this, is to try and work out what her passion is and what she’s good at and what she might see herself doing in the future.”

While the program runs for six months, Snell says it can be flexible with some mentors catching up once a week for the first four weeks, then once a fortnight or including phone catchups.

Snell, who has mentored for about six years with the Emerging Leaders Program, says this program has opened her eyes to the fact that not everyone has people to support them throughout their careers.

“It’s quite different from other mentoring that I've done, which has been young people who are already quite established in their careers and looking for board position, so it’s been a slightly different cohort.

“So I think what I give and what I get out of it quite different.

“I wanted to mentor on this program because United Way are so involved with it and I wanted to know from the inside what the mentors were experiencing.”

Snell says while demand for the program is strong from young adults and almost at capacity, recruiting mentors has been more challenging.

“I understand that, you’re asking people to give their time freely, and they are often people who are already working or sometimes who’ve recently retired, and that can be quite a big ask.

“But what we’re really trying to promote is what this gives to the young people, and that’s to ensure they are fully employed and doing the things they enjoy, as well as the satisfaction that you get out of it yourself, that you've helped someone along that journey.”

Mentees come from broad backgrounds including those who’ve finished school or university, are young parents, unemployed or underemployed, with mentors from an equally big range of backgrounds.

“We’ve got all sorts of people, people that work in recruitment and HR, marketing, from banks, we’ve got builders, life coaches, even a few engineers sprinkled in there as well,” Snell says

To find out more about the program visit  mentoring2work.org.au or email volunteering@unitedwaywa.com.au.

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