The programs that make about 10,000 young people of western Sydney job-ready each year may be dead by December.
The federal government will cut funding to Partnership Brokers, a service that creates partnerships between high schools and industry to give young people employment skills and smooth the transition to work.
The federal funding accounts for more than 60 per cent of their operating budgets, while the roughly 30 per cent of funding from the state government for the work placement program the services also run, comes via the federal government — making it unlikely they will continue to operate past the end of the year.
"We don't know if it's going to survive," SIP chief executive Ian Palmer said.
"It seems the federal government now believes kids can fend for themselves.
"We believe this to be a false saving, as the cost of youth unemployment will soon outstrip any possible short term savings. It is often too late to address . . . when a young person presents at Centrelink.
"Volunteer parents and employers working with schools is not only more effective, it's far cheaper."
Partnership Brokers has allowed students "career conversations" which give them the information needed to pursue a career from professionals in their chosen field, try-a-trade expos, interview skills, guest speakers, and specialist programs such as a computer game building workshop for teens with Asperger syndrome.
"Students learn more in one week of work placement than they do in three or four months in the classroom," AusSIP chief executive John Watters, an ex-teacher, said.
"You need to contextualise what is being taught, otherwise it's like teaching people to swim without getting them into a pool."
BREED managing director Stephen Frost's reaction to the funding cuts was "extreme disappointment".
"We work in areas where there is generational unemployment," he said.
"It's far better to have them focused while they're at school as it helps them to see that there is a future ."
Hills brokers' reach wide
The Australian Schools Industry Partnership, AusSIP, delivers the Partnership Brokers and structured workplace learning programs to The Hills and Parramatta areas from Harris Park through to Kellyville.
■ 8000 opportunities created for students annually through AusSIP.
■ 6000 students engaged in industry visits, mentoring, try-a-trade, work placements and other education/industry partnerships.
■ 350 employers are the basis of AusSIP’s partnership network in health, construction, finance, information technology, retail, hospitality, tourism, legal services, event management, business services, entertainment and education.
■ 22 high schools have work placements brokered for them by AusSIP each year.