Northern Rivers business leaders came together on Wednesday 21 November to establish an industry led approach to increasing youth employment and business innovation in the Region.

The Northern Rivers Thinking Differently Summit with over 140 of the regions business leaders took a design thinking approach to growing jobs for local young people and growing business innovation.

Key note speaker, Mark McCrindle , a social analyst with an international following and  a special interest in the multigenerational workforce, engaging Gen Y and emerging generations created the first layer of understanding and insights for Summit participants.

The Summit was initiated by the NSW Business Chamber as a partnership collaboration with the Australian Government’s Department of Jobs & Small Business, NSW Government Dept of Premier & Cabinet and Dept. of Industry, Northern Rivers Joint Organisation, Design Farm Collective, Tursa Employment and Training, Southern Cross University, RDA Northern Rivers, Sourdough, AusIndustry and CareSuper.

Mark McCrindle told the Northern Star a forum like this was "needed" for the region. "It's a pretty innovative day to get educators, employers, policy makers, researchers and young people together to create a better future for young people," he said.

"We've got low unemployment nationally but high youth unemployment in the region and high underemployment - it's well above the state average in the wider Northern Rivers area."

The Summit was a full day program and included the launch of the Northern Rivers Young Entrepreneurs Fund, an inaugural program to support the development of concepts and solutions that can value add to existing businesses or enable new start-ups. 

Summit participant and Director of Hurford Harwood, Andrew Hurford told the Northern Star he gained many insights from the Summit's speakers, panel and 'design approach' workshops.

"I gained better insight into the way young people think and what they are looking for from the workplace... we may have to re-engineer training and our approach to work in a way that's going better connect with what young people are expecting in the future.

"As businesses, if we are not able to engage with our new workforce we are doomed to fail, so we must find ways to work with our next generation so we can plan for our future.”

The workshops were run by the Design Farm Collective, facilitated by Director David Mallam.

Foundation for Young Australians CEO Jan Owen told the Northern Star that the summit was vital to the region because there was more educated young people in the history of Australia that are not getting the proper pathways to jobs.

"Forums like these get us thinking about what is the what are the future focused industries here, what can we be working on now, how can we work together to create that?"

"Employers need to think differently about employees."

To read the Northern Star article click here.