Youth Employment Innovation Challenge

Tackling Youth Unemployment Through Innovation

What is the Youth Employment Innovation Challenge?

The NSW Department of Industry is working with the NSW Department of Finance, Services and Innovation to launch the Youth Employment Innovation Challenge.


The Innovation Challenge will offer $10 million to fund innovative solutions and ideas that support young people to find employment in NSW, with a focus on regional areas.


The Innovation Challenge will help develop projects that investigate, design and implement better ways of helping young people aged 15-24 years old with multiple and complex barriers to find work.


The application process will involve a pitch event where shortlisted applicants will pitch their ideas to a panel of experts.


Selected projects will receive funding and enter an incubation process, where successful projects will undergo ‘business ready’ training with an experienced incubation partner.



Our target group


We are looking for ideas and solutions which help young people who are:

  • 15 – 24 years old
  • In at-risk groups
  • Early school leavers or disengaged from school
  • Not in education, employment or training
  • Not receiving income support payments or under any other Commonwealth program 



Youth unemployment remains an issue

Youth unemployment remains a persistent issue, particularly as unemployed youth form a large proportion of the total unemployed population. Regional youth unemployment rates remain high across NSW, with a number of regions recording unemployment rates above the state average (highlighted in the image below).


High youth unemployment is of particular concern because it hampers economic growth and can have a negative effect on a persons future. Youth is an important time for choosing a career, gaining and developing skills, establishing an identity and obtaining independence.


At-risk groups


There are a multitude of causes for the sustained level of youth unemployment, but the impact is felt greatest by young people considered at risk or already experiencing long-term unemployment. At-risk group categories  include young people with a disability, First Australians, those with caring responsibilities, young people from low socio-economic communities and those with low educational attainment.


Other barriers to employment


Many young people also experience individual barriers to employment, such as limited access to transport or education, drug and alcohol abuse or unstable housing that may increase their risk of unemployment. 

Source: ABS cat. No. 6291.0.55.001 Labour Force, Australia, Detailed - Electronic Delivery, Oct 2017


What problem are we trying to solve?

The Innovation Challenge seeks solutions and ideas that address the following:

  1. How can we develop and promote clearer pathways, so young people can make informed decisions about their employment options?

  2. How can we better connect young people and employers, so that they are the right fit for each other?

  3. How can we bring employers on the journey to create more youth inclusive work environments?

  4. How can we assist young people who have transport barriers to access training and employment opportunities?

  5. How can we enable young people to identify their skills and for employers recognise those skills?




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