'Together' was the theme of CareerSeekers Spotlight 2021, held recently in Melbourne and Sydney to acknowledge the stories and achievements of Australia's humanitarian entrants.

As a partner of CareerSeekers, Ventia was pleased to have several leaders and HR professionals attend each event to hear stories from program participants and celebrate their successes as they pursue career opportunities in Australia.

CareerSeekers is a non-profit social enterprise that supports humanitarian arrivals to overcome the barriers they face when seeking to establish and recommence their careers in Australia.

It was particularly exciting on the night for our attendees to hear from Sophia Eyob, who completed an internship with Ventia on one of our roads contracts in Melbourne.

Sophia Eyob pictured speaking at the CareerSeekers event in Melbourne, Victoria
Sophia Eyob pictured speaking at the CareerSeekers event in Melbourne, Victoria

Sophia was settled in Australia in 2016 as part of the humanitarian program, after growing up in Eritrea and Kenya.

Sophia spoke eloquently about her journey, and her experiences as an intern with Ventia. 

Sophia undertook a 12-week internship with the stakeholder engagement team on the contract. 

Among other tasks, Sophia supported the team responsible for managing communications with residents, businesses and other stakeholders about upcoming works on the roads. She has said that stepping out of her comfort zone to deal with those stakeholders, whether over the phone or face to face, has helped give her confidence. 

"The job market is very competitive," she says.

I feel this will help give me an edge and the ability to grab hold of opportunities.

Ventia employees pictured at the CareerSeekers event in Melbourne, Victoria
Ventia employees pictured at the CareerSeekers event in Melbourne, Victoria

Project Director Motorways and Tunnels, NSW, Ed Babela said he was really impressed by the Spotlight event and the stories he heard. 

"Meeting the candidates and hearing their stories and the hardships they went through to get where they are was inspiring," Ed said. "Ultimately though it was all about their achievements which were impressive."

"We met a few great new Australians who are part of the program we are hoping to create opportunities on our roads contracts in NSW."

Program Manager James Bennett also made some important connections on the night. 

"One of the participants I was talking to is a civil engineer, with some relevant and transferable skills from his country of origin," James says.  "I expect this to be the first of the opportunities we can explore with CareerSeekers."

Loes Westerbeek is the Chair of Ventia's Diversity and Inclusion Working Party and coordinates the relationship with CareerSeekers. 

"The event created the opportunity for our leaders to learn more about the program and meet some of the talented new Australians who are part of the program. This has generated interest across the business, included from Ed and James," Loes says.

We now also have other parts of our business looking at interns for their contracts.

CareerSeekers General Manager Lynn Anderson says that it is only through partnerships with organisations across the country that they are able to create hundreds of internship opportunities. 

"These are opportunities that not only vastly improve the trajectory of career and resettlement journeys, but also transform teams and projects, enriching organisations and their employees," Lynn says.

"The internships give participants the chance to learn about the Australian workplace, gain local paid work experience and develop valuable networks and relationships with industry mentors."

Sam Toppenberg, Group Executive People and Capability has placed university students in her team and has followed closely the placements of mid-career professionals elsewhere in the business. 

We find we benefit from the diversity in thinking and the skills that refugees and asylum seekers bring to our organisation and we're committed to continuing our relationship with CareerSeekers', she says.

For more information on CareerSeekers or how to get involved, visit www.careerseekers.org.au