Warrawong student inspired by job-based experience

Jamie Henning. Picture ANDY ZAKELI

Jamie Henning. Picture ANDY ZAKELI

Warrawong's Jamie Henning has transformed from an uninterested school student to a passionate job seeker and hard worker.

The 17-year-old student was never interested in studying, so when a permaculture class was offered in year 8, he grabbed the chance to escape the classroom.

"I was pretty lazy but realised it's a lot better than being in class," he said.

"I warmed up to it."

Now, he has been employed for about two years while at Warrawong High School, through a Green Connect program which plants chemical-free food and sells them to local businesses.

Thanks to federal government funding, The Smith Family's partnership brokers program stepped in to grow the project and help it become self-sustaining.

Green Connect now sells produce to the Novotel Northbeach, the Red Kitchen and fine dining restaurant Caveau.

Green Connect manager, Jess Moore, said it was important to help youth become employable through training and a "taste of what it's like in the real world".

Jamie hoped the federal government would recommit funding to the partnership brokers program, which runs out at the end of the year.

"It's good to get experience for when I leave school and find a job - either landscaping or joining the defence force," he said.

He went through a difficult period when his parents split two years ago, but has pulled through and applied himself at school.

"I'm putting my head down more, because I want to get a good job," he said.

Taking part in Green Connect's program inspired him to break the cycle of disadvantage and the negative influences of some of his peers. "It matured me a lot more," Jamie, who is in his HSC year, said.

Now, he has bought a ute and plans to get more experience landscaping, before building his own business.

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