Yarn n Yakka proves a runaway success for Indigenous job seekers

Life-changing Indigenous employability program Yarn n Yakka has proven a runaway success for Gold Coast job seekers.

MatchWorks Queensland partnered with One Step Further and Yakka Employment Services to develop the innovative Yarn n Yakka program which prepared Indigenous job seekers from the area for jobs in hospitality and tourism.

Yarn n Yakka training included a week of MatchWorks’ Deadly Yakka employability training followed by eight weeks of skills training in a Certificate II or III in Hospitality (Tourism).

A total of 52 Indigenous job seekers started Yarn and Yakka training in three groups, with an initial group starting the program in May last year.

Of the 52 participants which started Yarn and Yakka, 38 participants completed the training and found employment with local businesses. 14 graduates also went onto further study, including seven who have started a Diploma in Hospitality.

Participants were encouraged to bring friends and family along to training sessions for support, which often resulted in more Indigenous job seekers signing up to the program.

Accor Hotels’ Sofitel and Mercure Gold Coast properties were major supporters of the Yarn n Yakka Program, with 10 referrals being ready for Accor’s Indigenous Job Ready Program in November last year. Of those referrals participants were placed in roles ranging from front office, housekeeping and food and beverage.

Yarn n Yakka graduates Fay Smallwood and Isaac Summerfield, mother and son, said they were extremely happy and proud after starting work in the hospitality industry at Accor properties after successfully finishing their training.

Fellow graduate Ciara Daylight said gaining a job at Jupiter’s Casino after completing a Certificate III in Hospitality had boosted her confidence and given her life structure.

MatchWorks Acting Executive Director Mark McCoy said the combined efforts of job seekers, trainers, mentors, employers and partners made Yarn and Yakka a success.

“We’re extremely proud of the work everyone has put into this program and you can see by the results that it really was an effective way of engaging Indigenous job seekers with community supports and meaningful employment,” he said.

“This couldn’t have happened without the outstanding work of One Step Further and Yakka Employment Services and we look forward to working with these fantastic local organisations in the future.”

One Step Further CEO Jo Smith said collaborating with specialist employment service organisations created a strong program. “This without doubt has been one of the most rewarding programs in my 38 year career,” she said.

“To see the success for our students who have worked so hard at stretching themselves has been somewhat overwhelming – they are all so deserving.”

Yakka Employment Services Director and Indigenous Mentor Jay McDermott said the Yarn n Yakka program was “an opportunity for the local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community to be involved in a program that gave them access to quality training and mentoring services”.

“Feedback from the local community organisations is that the participants enjoyed the program and are still enjoying their new careers in the hospitality and tourism industry,” he said.

This training was proudly funded and supported by the Queensland Government through its Indigenous Training Strategy program.

Department of Education and Training Area Manager Brendan Wright said the Queensland Government was proud to support programs like Yarn n Yakka.

“The Queensland Government is committed to providing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with the skills they need to successfully transition into the workforce,” Mr Wright said.

“The Yarn and Yakka project has been an outstanding success and it was very pleasing to see industry, training providers, local community organisations and government all working towards a common goal,” he said.

“Congratulations to the graduates of the program, we wish you continued success in your career.”