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Vocational education pathway opens door to young migrants, refugees

TAFE NSW and J.P. Morgan have expanded their landmark First Step program for young people to support South Western Sydney’s newly arrived migrant and refugee community.  

The part-time pathway program offers free training to young people aged between 15 and 24 to help introduce them to vocational education.

It’s now been expanded to give young people from newly arrived migrant and refugee backgrounds an overview of the construction, manufacturing and nursing industries in 2022. 

Alana Perish, the TAFE NSW senior project officer for First Step , says the new programs have been designed in consultation with young people from newly arrived migrant and refugee backgrounds, their parents, and teachers, who expressed a need for post-school programs to assist them with young people’s transition to training and employment.  

 “Newly arrived high school aged students face a range of challenges,’’ says Ms Perish.

“The added difficulty for newly arrived senior school aged students is that they have less time to prepare for the more academically challenging demands of the senior curriculum.

“The difficulties these students face is compounded for those who have previous disrupted or little schooling. 

“These programs will give young people from a newly arrived migrant and refugee background a taste of the industry they select and equip them with foundation skills to find work or move on to further study.” 

The First Step Program forms part of three-year collaboration between J.P. Morgan and TAFE NSW which aims to support youth of South Western Sydney into meaningful career pathways. 

 The programs feature tuition in specialised industry language, reading, writing, and maths, integrated with vocational training.

Students have access to job seeking support and connections with employers and mentors.  

Australia and New Zealand CEO of J.P. Morgan, Robert Bedwell said the company is excited to continue working with TAFE NSW to help newly arrived young people get a head-start in their careers.   

 “J.P. Morgan has committed nearly $1 million to the First Step initiative in Australia, and we’re proud to support the expansion of the program to benefit additional sectors of the community,” Mr Bedwell said. 

“Our staff look forward to mentoring future young people from diverse backgrounds and providing continued support to help them get the best start in their career journeys.” 

To find out more about the range of study options available at TAFE NSW including the First Step Program, visit or call 131 601. 

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