Traineeships link surf to snow

Victoria's Surf Coast Shire has launched an innovative scheme to overcome seasonal variations in economic activity in the Shire and reduce local youth unemployment. Under the scheme 14 unemployed young people from the Shire have been selected to work for the six warmer months of the year in the local surfing industry.

During the remaining six months they will work on the snowfields of Mt Hotham and Falls Creek. Surf Coast has developed this initiative in partnership with the State Government and potential employers from both the surfing and skiing industries, which experience high seasonal changes in demand.

Mayor Julie Hansen said the scheme is the result of collaboration between the Shire, the Department of State Development, the Torquay surf industry, the Mt Hotham Ski Company and Geelong Training Group.

The 12 months training period is offered under the Youth Employment Initiative Scheme. Trainees will gain an accredited Certificate in Retail Operation as well as invaluable experience.

They have recently undertaken nine weeks pre employment training prior to commencing work in mid November. This is in time for holidaymakers and surfing enthusiasts flocking to Surf Coast just 100 kilometres from Melbourne.

Jodi Wood former national retail manager of prominent local business Rip Curl Australia has been seconded by Surf Coast to drive the project.

"Jodi has been recruited to help the Shire with advice on youth employment issues," Councillor Hansen said. "She has a good understanding of the seasonal problems experienced by local surfing businesses and developed the concept, allowing local employers to reap the benefits of having its trainees on hand for busy periods but not be committed to continuing their employment in the quieter months."

Manager Strategic Development, Peter Dorling said originally the project was to train 12 young people but demand from industry was so high the number was increased.

"We hope that if this pilot is successful we can expand the program next year," he said.

Councillor Hansen said the program shows that Surf Coast Shire is interested in taking advantage of unique local opportunities both for local industry and young people themselves.

For further information contact Peter Dorling, telephone (03) 5261 0607.