Turn for the bet­ter

Geelong Advertiser - - NEWS - OLIVIA SHY­ING

A GEE­LONG teen who didn’t en­joy high school is now thriv­ing in a full-time job af­ter grad­u­at­ing top of his trade school class.

Con­nor Kennedy, 16, was se­lected for Diver­si­tat’s Try a Trade program close to three years ago when teach­ers re­alised he was dis­en­gaged from school and at risk of drop­ping out.

The program, which re­cently won a state award, of­fers dis­en­gaged young peo­ple in Gee­long hands-on ex­pe­ri­ence pro­vid­ing them the op­por­tu­nity to de­velop au­to­mo­tive and build­ing con­struc­tion skills in a work­ing en­vi­ron­ment.

Six­teen of the program’s 17 grad­u­ates have se­cured full­time work.

Con­nor, who works at Lara’s Air Ra­di­a­tors, said he thrived in the program be­cause he de­vel­oped close re­la­tion­ships with his teach­ers who mo­ti­vated him to suc­ceed.

“I wasn’t into school and then they put me into a program that hooked me up with this course. It was more hand­son and it was great,” he said.

“I mainly fo­cused on work­ing on cars back then and I got along re­ally well with the teach­ers.

“If you re­spected them, they re­spected you.”

Stu­dents are also taught work­place health and safety prin­ci­ples and a va­ri­ety of trades to as­sist them in se­lect­ing fur­ther ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing and ul­ti­mately a job.

Diver­si­tat’s chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer, Michael Martinez, said the program’s recog­ni­tion at the learn lo­cal awards high­lighted the dif­fer­ence train­ing pro­grams could make in a com­mu­nity.

“This is well over­due recog- ni­tion for the great work we do at You Turn,” Mr Martinez said.

“We have been op­er­at­ing youth pro­grams for over 20 years and You Turn is an ex­cel­lent ex­am­ple of what we do and the care and ded­i­ca­tion of our staff and vol­un­teers get­ting real re­sults and path­ways for young peo­ple into work, train­ing and a bet­ter life.”

Con­nor, who loves his full­time job, said he would en­cour­age any young per­son to give Try a Trade a go.

Pic­ture: GLENN FER­GU­SON

TOOLS FOR LIFE: Con­nor Kennedy has a bright fu­ture thanks to an award-win­ning Gee­long program.

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