Shepparton High School students yesterday committed to stay in further education and training or be in full-time employment before leaving school.
The Beacon charter signing had more than 80 Year 10 students make the symbolic pledge in front of community members.
‘‘Our region has one of the highest youth unemployment rates in the country,’’ Shepparton High School career practitioner Mary-Ann Linehan said.
‘‘It is vitally important we give our students the skills to survive in the competitive world of work.’’
A range of former students returned for the 10-year anniversary, sharing their journeys on finishing high school before entering employment.
Former student Carmen Robertson said her university pathway did not go to plan, but ended up being a blessing in disguise.
‘‘I didn’t get the score and instead had a gap year, working on my parents’ farm,’’ she said.
‘‘I got into my second preferance the year after, a Bachelor of Music Performance at Box Hill Institute, and learnt more than just classical music.’’
Ms Robertson is moderately to severely deaf and hopes to help create pathways for deaf students.
‘‘I faced lots of challenges at school in terms of oral listening,’’ she said.
‘‘But for someone who didn’t know a language up until the age of six, to be now doing what I’m doing I think that’s a big jump.’’
The Beacon Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation connecting students with community members and opening the eyes of young people.
Director Anthony Garnham said yesterday’s event was better than he could have hoped for.
‘‘We aim to help teach the principle of self-reliance, it also gives the opportunity for business people to help local students,’’ he said.