Member for Kiama Gareth Ward today called on local businesses, community organisations and innovators to get involved in an exciting NSW Government program to develop new solutions for youth unemployment.

Mr Ward said the $10 million Youth Employment Innovation Challenge will provide funds for people and organisations to develop new and innovative ideas to help more young people into work.

“Youth unemployment is something we all want to address and this new $10 million initiative is about getting local businesses, communities and government working together to conquer youth unemployment,” he said.

“The Youth Employment Innovation Challenge encourages new ideas and solutions to get young people into work and successful entries will be put into practice through the NSW Government’s Innovation Launch program, to assist 15-24 year olds who are not in employment, education or training,” Mr Ward said.

Mr Ward said an information session on the initiative would be held on Wednesday 21 March from 9:15 am – 10:55 am at the University of Wollongong’s Innovation Campus.

The NSW Deputy Premier, Minister for Regional NSW and Minister for Skills John Barilaro encouraged the local community to participate in the Challenge.

“Having a job is one of the best ways to boost someone’s sense of self-worth,” Mr Barilaro said.

“The Youth Employment Innovation Challenge is all about getting young people into jobs and I encourage everyone to get involved and share their ideas to help us make a real difference,” he said.

The NSW Minister for Innovation Matt Kean said applications for the challenge are open from today until 10 April with the best ideas then chosen and coached ahead of a shark tank-style pitch event in Sydney on 3 May.

“Finalists in the pitch event will be selected for an incubation program where they will be helped to develop their ideas into workable business models that can then be rolled out to tackle youth unemployment in their local communities,” Mr Kean said.

“Funding will be available to support new ideas or to expand small programs that are already operating successfully, and getting young people into work.”

For more information on the Youth Employment Innovation Challenge or the local information session, please visit the website at: https://launch.innovation.nsw.gov.au/youthemployment.