New research shows the long-term benefits of mentoring

Business mentoring programs boost the confidence and skills of students from low-socio economic backgrounds, laying the foundation for more positive post-school outcomes 10-12 years later, a new study of students has shown.

The study by the Australian Business and Community Network (ABCN) contains many stories of former students reporting strong retention of key teachings from ABCN programs, often directly connected to their mentor.

ABCN is a purpose-led, not-for-profit organisation that connects volunteers from leading companies with students from low socio-economic status backgrounds to provide fun, workplace-based mentoring programs that develop students’ confidence, skills and aspirations vital for thriving in the workplace of the future.

The research, Careers in the Making: A follow up study of ABCN mentees 10 years on, found:

  • Mentors matter. Students’ beneficial connection with ABCN mentors was the stand-out feature of programs. Nearly 70% of alumni named the mentor connection as a most memorable aspect of participating in ABCN programs.
  • Alumni gained ‘gateway’ work-readiness skills and traits through ABCN programs. 82% had undertaken further study or training post-school and 87% were fully engaged in work and/or study compared with 72% for this age group nationally.
  • Future focus. Alumni developed future-focused capabilities and thinking, underpinning their work and personal lives. 70% named their career as their priority for development over the next five years and they placed high emphasis on continuous learning and self-development.
 Click to read the full report.

‘These are wonderful findings that affirm the real and lasting benefits of ABCN mentoring programs over a long period,’ ABCN CEO Phil Gardner said.

‘A compelling finding is the power of the mentor connection, with 70% of students in our research saying a most memorable part of their ABCN experience was having and working with a mentor.

‘ABCN’s programs build soft skills as well as access to people working in some of Australia’s leading companies.

‘We now have evidence that the changes in students endure long after they first meet their mentors from our member companies.

‘At a time of rapid changes to the workplace driven by digitisation, globalisation and labour insecurity, this is powerful evidence of the pivotal role mentors in ABCN programs play in supporting young people from low socio-economic areas.’

More than 60,000 students have been reached by ABCN programs since 2005 through a network of mentors from 48 companies.

One former student is Yasmina Elmerkhaoui, who completed an ABCN program with Microsoft as a Year 10 student at Glenroy College in Melbourne’s North 10 years ago. She now runs a full-time business as a social media influencer (@mrs.yasmina on Instagram) and has almost 95,000 followers.

Yasmina Elmerkhaoui speaking at a women’s networking event in Melbourne.

‘We go to school to learn so much but a skill like confidence is something that’s not focused on enough. If only they knew the benefits 10 years down the track, that it is still reaping its rewards,’ Yasmina says.

‘It’s crazy to think that something so many years ago would stick with a child, but it goes to show it can and does shape who they are.’

Yasmina, who is part way through studying a Bachelor of Psychology and a mother-of two, is living proof of the long-term impact mentors can have.

‘I was someone who was nervous in front of a crowd and Lisa, my ABCN mentor at the time, gave me a coin. My mentor’s advice was to focus on holding it tight when I spoke instead of focusing on the people,’ Yasmina recalls.

‘It’s advice that I’ve kept with me forever. I remember going into the city to meet all of these businesspeople. It was just so cool to see people who were so successful.’

Read the full report here.

About ABCN: The Australian Business and Community Network is a group of more than 200 low socio-economic status schools and more than 48 leading businesses, working together to address educational disadvantage through structured workplace mentoring and business/school partnerships.

About the research: In 2021-22 conducted a long-term follow-up study of mentees who had  participated in ABCN programs between 2010-2012. Alumni were aged between 23-27. ABCN conducted an online survey and 67 people completed questionnaires. Of these, nine participated in online interviews to further explore the experience and impact of ABCN programs.



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