Samoan Job Readiness Programme Drives Change
In May 2014, the Wise Foundation and The Body Shop Australia led their annual Inspiration Scheme volunteering trip to Samoa to provide job readiness training and mentoring for unemployed Samoan youths.
Currently many youth in Samoa drop out of school without a job, to help their families with their organic farming. A lack of education and skill limits the jobs available and as job opportunities are scarce there are very few means to earn an income outside of the farm.
Alongside Women In Business Development Incorporated (WIBDI), we ran a one week Job Readiness skills program for Samoan youth, teaching them about good customer service to give them the skills to apply for service related roles in retail, hospitality and tourism. Participants on the program were from the families that WIBDI support and were identified as youth with aspirations to work in Samoa outside of the farm.
“This is the first job readiness skill program aimed at youth and it teaches them about goal-setting, good customer service, attitudes and how they can use all those skills to get a job,” said Mr. Alex McDonald, Executive Director of the Wise Foundation.
"In partnership with Women in Business, the Wise Foundation has been able to come in contact with some of the unemployed individuals of Samoa who have the drive and enthusiasm to gain employment" he said.
WIBDI work with farmers in Samoa to supply The Body Shop with the Community Fair Trade coconut oil that’s used in many of The Body Shop’s most popular products. The Body Shop International sources all of their coconut oil from these Samoan farmers through a partnering relationship with WIBDI. Last year alone, Samoa exported 35 tonnes of oil to The Body Shop to go into our products.
It was through these existing ties to the community that they were able to identify youths that would benefit from the mentoring program. Each mentor worked with their mentees intensively for the full week and will continue to provide ongoing support and mentoring for the remainder of the year.
Mr. McDonald is thrilled about what the most recent group of volunteers has been able to achieve and is looking forward to working with community groups in Samoa to identify areas that the Wise Foundation can contribute to in the future. "It was an incredibly rewarding experience for all our employees that volunteered to work with the Samoan youths. The relationship that has developed between the Wise Foundation, The Body Shop, WIBDI and the Samoan community is testament to our ongoing volunteering efforts in the region" he said.
Twelve participants completed the program and attended the graduation ceremony that drew attention from local newspapers, radio and television. A representative from the Australian High Commission awarded the certificates and the General Manager of the Tanoa Tusitala Hotel addressed the group with a motivational speech about what he looks for in hiring staff – the right attitude!
Two weeks on and four participants have secured jobs in Samoa with the remaining participants able to gain work experience at an upcoming conference in September. The youth have been able to share the things they learned with their friends and family and have become advocates for improving customer service in Samoa.