Between a full schedule of programs, 10-year celebrations in both WA and Queensland, our second National Symposium in Sydney, pilot programs and 24 new scholars, 2017 was another huge year for ABCN. Over 5500 students benefited from face-to-face mentoring this year – a massive 12% increase on 2016 – and we reached a further 1600 online. We formally welcomed Accenture, Energy Australia, nbn and Visionstream to the ABCN network, as well as Lendlease and Watersure who originally began their relationship with ABCN as Business Class partners. Generous grants through Microsoft, CBA, EY, J.P. Morgan and American Express also enabled a number of new initiatives this year and we thank these companies for their support.
According to the Foundation for Young Australians’ recent New Work Order report, today’s typical 15-year-old will experience 17 different jobs over five careers in their lifetime. This may include a combination of working for themselves, for others, in an office or remotely. It is critical therefore, that our work continues to reflect the changing workplace to ensure the students we work with are equipped with the right skills and mindsets for the future of work.
It is in this spirit that in November our Symposium focused on the future of work and what business and education can do together to support our students for this new world. It included discussion around the importance of diversity in the workplace, bridging the gap between STEM at school and STEM in the workplace, and the transferable skills required for success. Despite the many unknowns, one of our ABCN scholars and panellists, Jessica Szakacs said that she feels confident about the future. ‘With the right initiative and dedication and attitude’, she said, ‘we can do so much more than what technology confines us to.’
The work we do is sadly more relevant than ever, with students from low socio-economic backgrounds lagging behind their advantaged counterparts in academic achievement by up to 3 years, impacting their attainment of Year 12 and participation in the workforce. We are making progress however – 90% of graduates from ABCN flagship programs GOALS and Aspirations completed school, compared with 60-80% in the disadvantaged and general population. Equally powerful is the impact on our mentors and member companies themselves – in 2017, 97% of our mentors reported they developed their coaching and mentoring skills by taking part in our programs.
In ABCN Foundation news, we awarded 24 new scholarships this year – our highest number yet – bringing the total number of scholarships to 86. Recipients represent NSW, Vic, Qld, Tas, WA, and now our first ever scholar from SA.
And last, but not least, we acknowledge our outgoing Chair, Helen Zimmerman, who has stepped down after three wonderful years – and we thank her for the time she has committed to ABCN during her tenure. At the same time, we welcome Tony Mcvean, Managing Partner at Hall & Willcox as incoming Chair.
We wish all of our many supporters a safe and happy holiday season.
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