Darwin Skills Development Scheme (DSDS) evolved from a Community Youth Support Scheme (CYSS) Program that had closed in December 1982, and then re-opened in February 1983 with a new focus to provide vocational training for youth in areas where local industry had identified skill shortages. Attendance grew rapidly to average sixty unemployed young people per day. The Northern Territory Government agreed to assist the program with accommodation if the participation rate was maintained and community support was obvious.
During 1984 the program moved to Sports House, Fannie Bay and the daily participant contact rate grew to one hundred and twenty.
In 1986, the Management Committee sponsored a new program, Project Employment. Currently funded by the Commonwealth Department of Social Services as a Disability Employment Service, Project Employment assists people with disabilities to enter the workforce.
A Community Volunteer Program ran from 1988 until the merge of the Department of Employment and Education funded vocational training programs and the introduction of the Skillshare Program in 1989.
Darwin Skills Development Scheme was incorporated as an Association in the Northern Territory on 31 January 1989 under the Associations Incorporation Act.
DSDS held Registered Training Organisation status with the Department of Education, Employment and Training (previously Northern Territory Employment and Training Authority, NTETA) from 1992 to 2011 and now delivers non-accredited training under its own right and accredited training in partnership with other Registered Training Organisations.
As a Skillshare DSDS continued to provide training and a number of other vocational programs for disadvantaged jobseekers until 1998, when all labour market programs were outsourced. The organisation then successfully tendered for an Employment Services contract to deliver Job Matching, Jobsearch Assistance and Intensive Assistance to jobseekers until 2003.
From July 2003 to June 2010 DSDS in Darwin and Nhulunbuy operated as a Job Placement Agency and delivered Job Matching and Intensive Assistance in Darwin and to six communities in Arnhemland, on a fee for service basis.
DSDS delivered the Work for the Dole Program, both local and remote, from 2000 to 2009.
From 2002 to 2009 DSDS delivered the Personal Support Program, which assisted unemployed clients to address barriers to entering the workforce.
From 1996 to 2009 DSDS delivered a number of youth programs from its Youth Services Section including JPET, Job Pathways, Indigenous Youth Programs and the self funded DSDS Youth Services program. With the Federal Government’s closure of these programs in 2009 the Youth Services Section ceased to operate.
The organisation currently provides training to remote community organisations who are delivering their own Job Services Australia programs.