Multiplex Connectivity Centres
For more than 10 years we have sought an understanding of the employment issues faced by disadvantaged cohorts in the communities in which we operate, and in response to that understanding, we have developed many programs to improve employment opportunities.
The Connectivity Centre concept came to life during our involvement with Building the Education Revolution where we recognised the role we could play in positively connecting disadvantaged job seekers with opportunities arising from our projects, both during construction and beyond.
We applied this thinking to our Stockland Shellharbour project, where a 36% youth unemployment rate made it a top ten priority area for Government. We partnered with local Employment Services providers and Stockland to develop the first physical Connectivity Centre – a community hub to support employment of local people on the shopping centre redevelopment site.
The approach proved to be a success, with the Connectivity Centre helping to place over 300 local people in employment over 3 years.
Following a number of similar projects, we recently launched our eighth Connectivity Centre on the Westmead Redevelopment project. Through a process of continual improvement, the Westmead Connectivity Centre is geared towards helping people become self-sufficient by offering job support services, as well as traineeships and apprenticeships, business mentoring and support, and networking opportunities.
Rewarding partnerships are the foundation of the Connectivity Centre concept. It takes many groups to make a Connectivity Centre a success, and the team at the Centre’s role is to bring those groups together and facilitate a shared approach to a common goal.
We hope that the approach can be applied industry-wide, with the Australian Research Council recently awarding us one of 10 grants nationally. The grant will be used to study the social impact of the Connectivity Centre model focusing on cross-sector collaboration, and will help to demonstrate how industry can leverage Australia’s construction pipeline to help address youth unemployment.