The Clontarf Foundation South East Academy has hosted its 11th annual Employment Forum, allowing students to discuss future employment and work experience opportunities with local business representatives.
The not-for-profit organisation, which runs programs for both primary school and high school, aims to support young men, predominantly Aboriginal men, complete school and find employment.
Esperance program director Glen Symonds said the forum on Wednesday, August 21, presented an opportunity for the students to network and build relationships ahead of work placements and employment in the coming years.
"The kids genuinely enjoy it and we believe the forum is very valuable," he said.
"It's one thing getting kids to school and graduating, but unless you're getting them out and working, it defeats the purpose a little bit - that's why we prioritise this forum.
"Today, we've actually brought our year 6 students in because we believe it's good to sow that seed from the beginning.
"The employment forum has been running since we started.
"It's an opportunity for them to meet new people and they make those connections ahead of work placements.
"It's about giving them those skills, learning about interviews and general things that we take for granted that young people may not think about, like setting up bank accounts, and teaching them about superannuation.
"We're fortunate to have really strong relationships in the community and a lot of support."
The local program runs based on the national model, working with students from year 3 right up until year 12 and beyond.
Day-to-day, the program is based at Esperance Senior High School, acting as a conduit between the teachers, family and students to help support their education.
With more than 50 men from the academy having found work in a range of different fields and industries, Mr Symonds said it was an effective and rewarding program to be a part of.
"At school, it's about helping them to get organised, supporting their education, helping them to get work placements and helping them with any outside issues that may be going on," he said.
"Most of our students that come through year 11 and 12 now do VET courses and we have three that are doing ATAR.
"It's a good opportunity to give young indigenous men opportunity, the amount of past students out working now proves that.
"We're very fortunate that we have the administration at the school that we have and that they really do go above and beyond to support us.
"I really enjoy going to local businesses and seeing past students - it's really rewarding.
"Especially because we're involved with their life all the way through, we watch them grow up, you're with them through all of their ups and downs.
"In a way, it's like you almost adopt them as your own."
On behalf of Clontarf Esperance, Mr Symonds extended thanks to the businesses and organisations that had attended to support the forum.