Youth Online Training and Employment System (YOTES)

Bringing comprehensive employment support to more young people who need it.

Young people who experience mental illness are three times more likely to have difficulty maintaining their commitments at school, university and work. Yet they share the same aspirations as their peers and consistently rate gaining employment or completing education as one of their top three recovery goals. Come adulthood, people with a mental illness make up the largest group of people receiving welfare payments through the disability support pension.

The Individual Placement and Support (IPS) model was designed to assist people with mental illness to return to mainstream employment. IPS has been very successful and our team has adapted and evaluated it in young people with mental-ill health. Unfortunately, access to IPS is low in areas of high youth unemployment including regional areas. Our team has therefore partnered with Jobs Victoria, headspace and Whitelion to develop a new online system (YOTES) that integrates evidence-based online content informed by the IPS model and support by vocational specialists. This is embedded in a safe and empowering online social network, allowing young people to encourage and support each other as they pursue their career goals.

YOTES is currently being evaluated via a prospective, parallel group, rater-blind, randomised controlled trial, implemented across 5 headspace services in Victoria, Australia. Through this trial 160 young people undergoing face-to-face treatment for mental ill-health will be offered YOTES for a 6-month period. If successful, YOTES will enable the wider dissemination of comprehensive youth employment support to young people in unemployment hotspots and regional areas.

YOTES would not be possible without generous funding from the Helen MacPherson Smith Trust and the State Government of Victoria.