A program aiming to educate and empower local youth is seeing tangible results, providing them with direction and breaking the cycle of hardship.
Youth worker Gina Rangitaawa runs Yourtown’s Get Set for Work program at Kingston.
It’s a free 12-week course helping 15 to 19-year-olds who are no longer actively enrolled in education to learn new skills and gain employment – milestones Ms Rangitaawa said could be challenging for some.
Alarmingly high truancy rates and high level of under-qualified Queenslanders prompted major investment from the state government to drive the program.
Ms Rangitaawa has worked with 29 students as part of the Get Set For Work program – 18 of them are now employed.
“It’s about empowering young people to believe they can build on their skill set and they can become what they want to become,” she said.
She said many youths were discouraged from furthering themselves due to hardship, poverty or inaccessibility.
“A lot of our young people have a story to tell,” Ms Rangitaawa said.
“So, when they start our program, a lot of our workshops are strength-based – they are about empowering our young people to believe they are enough, they are unique, and that we can get better.”
Get Set for Work helps teenagers’ complete qualifications, learn communication skills, plan for their future, and even get their learner’s permit.
“Since Covid, a common barrier for young people has been social isolation, which leads to not understanding social cues and getting outside of their comfort zones,” Ms Rangitaawa said.
“A lot of our young people are finding comfort in their four walls – they build that world and they stay there.
“I had a young person who was enrolled at school and was only going for one hour a week, but after doing my program, his attendance changed to no days off.”
Last week 14 students graduated from the course.
Six students are now employed, while the others are returning to school or pursuing further education, and some learning to drive.
At the graduation ceremony, several students spoke of how the course had helped them: naming new friends, newfound confidence, and Ms Rangitaawa as course highlights.
The next intake of the course starts on Monday 20 November.
The program is held in Logan at Beenleigh, Browns Plains and Kingston, as well as Beaudesert, Capalaba and Ipswich.