Teenager Shane Clarke reckons he has found his calling.
And the 17-year-old is hoping to be part of the “very nice community” at Green Connect for a very long time.
Shane has been doing work experience at the Wollongong-based social enterprise for six weeks.
Providing jobs, training and support to young people and former refugees, Green Connect runs a not-for-profit business that works in environmental repair - a growth sector that is jobs rich.
“It’s been fantastic. I’m currently doing farm maintenance, harvesting and animal husbandry,” Shane said.
“I’d like to run a farm business in the future and this is helping me a lot in terms of what to do and how to do it and make sure everything stays safe.”
Shane, who will finish his studies at Five Islands Secondary College at the end of this year, hopes to secure paid work with the Green Connect farm in Lake Heights.
“They’ve helped me heaps with my people skills and team work. Hopefully I can get paid work,” he said.
The new youth employment program Green Connect launched on Wednesday is designed to help those disengaged young Illawarra people aged 15 o 24 who face multiple and complex barriers to employment.
“We’re thrilled to launch this program, and to grow our work helping tackle youth unemployment in the Illawarra,” Green Connect general manager Kylie Flament said.
“The program includes real work skills, training and experience with Green Connect as well as paid work.
“We designed a program around local young people and what they told us.
“We offer a work experience program on our farm, where they can try new things, meet new people, make mistakes, learn and make a difference.
“We offer accredited training and support. And we provide real and meaningful jobs, in which young people can grow and thrive.”
The program, developed as part of the NSW Government’s $10 million Youth Employment Innovation Challenge, provided jobs for the most disengaged and disadvantaged.
“Jobs that are safe and stable, because sometimes life is not,” Ms Flament said.
The Youth Employment program extends Green Connects’ existing work: creating employment opportunities for young people and former refugees in chemical-free farming and waste recovery.
“This program is a natural next step for our work. It will mean Green Connect gets paid for the employment outcomes we create, allowing us to invest in more young people in our community,” Ms Flament said.