You can build online communities and make virtual friends, but it’s not the same as personal experiences and relationships.
The Commercial Retail Group (CRG) Foodland store in Frewville, South Australia has established itself as a hub for the local community where staff are encouraged to take an active role in mentoring young people who are in need of a second chance in life. Josh Thomas had a rocky start in life and in his own words, got into a bad scene. “I needed to get a push to get into the spot I am in now.”
The push came from the Chapley family’s registered charity: Youthinc, a foundation for disadvantaged youth established by Spero Chapley in May of 2006. Their mission is to provide life-changing opportunities for disadvantaged youth through a range of leadership, employment, enterprise education and personal development programs.
This is something that can’t be done online and there are no handouts. Richard Miller, General Manager of Youthinc explains young people they identify as needing a life-changing break are offered the opportunity to earn a place in their business. “We provide opportunities – not handouts,” he said. “We provide a permanent fix. We do not give people jobs – we offer assistance and opportunities and people earn the jobs.”
30 – 40 young people per year attend a two week pre-employment program that runs 3 – 4 times a year in partnership with other local employers. Each group of 10 to 12 is allocated a commercial project to plan, develop and deliver. Josh’ team project involved creating a T-Shirt business including design, production and distribution through CRG stores.
Mr Thomas earned his place at the Frewville store as an apprentice baker. Brett Lewis from MEGT Australian Apprenticeships Centre oversees the progress of CRG’s apprentices and trainees – regularly checking they are on track with their training and ensuring the apprenticeship is progressing as it should. “Not only does the apprenticeship provide Josh with workplace experience and an income,” says Mr Lewis, “it has a clear pathway towards a qualification that is recognised nationally.”
A job, a qualification, a roof over his head, help with his Driver Licence and the team support are the foundations for Mr Thomas to be able to quit drugs and alcohol, get back into a fitness regimen and look more confidently at a positive future.
“My apprenticeship has made a huge difference in my life,” said Mr Thomas. “My friends and family didn’t have high hopes for my future. For the next four years, I will work here with my apprenticeship and even longer if they will have me.”
Australian Apprenticeships are an Australian Government initiative.