NEW SKILLS: TAFE teacher Stephen Duncan, Jessica Pannell, Sophie Eeles, Michelle Killen, from ICYS, and Tiani Black-Trench.
NEW SKILLS: TAFE teacher Stephen Duncan, Jessica Pannell, Sophie Eeles, Michelle Killen, from ICYS, and Tiani Black-Trench. Rob Williams

Providing avenues to young people out of options

TEENAGER Sophie Eeles grew disillusioned after she found herself getting knocked back every time she submitted a resume.

The 18-year-old graduated high school last year and said she struggled to get a job interview once employers read she had a speech impairment, learning difficulties and scoliosis.

"I think they're like 'I don't want that person, I want someone who can speak properly and clearly' and they hire other people," she said.

But an Ipswich program that provides support to disadvantaged and disengaged young people has given her new hope.

As a part of the Ipswich Community Youth Service Increasing Options Program, Sophie is undertaking a Certificate II In Kitchen Operations and received a boost in her dream to one day be a chef.

The program offers holistic support for youth for 12 months, even after participants gain their qualifications.

Sophie wakes up at 5am to attend the program from Caboolture.

Now in its fourth year, it has been nominated for Community Training Initiative of the Year in the Queensland Training Awards for the first time.

ICYS manager Amanda Margerison said the initial course works as "carrot" to give the young people involved an idea of what they can achieve.

While they learn how to make coffee and serve food to get a foot in the door of the hospitality industry, that is just the start.

"We find there are multiple barriers for them getting employment, not just the fact that they don't have a qualification behind them," she said.

"It could be that we're assisting them with any social or emotional problems that are going on for them, or any financial barriers that they have.

"Some of them present as being homeless with mental health concerns or disabilities.

"We can address and stablise what's going on in their life while they complete a qualification and while we assist them to get job ready and then move into the workforce.

"We then assist them to gain employment in any chosen field that they like."

The participants are linked to employers and other partners, to assist them in doing things like obtain a drivers license.

Ms Margerison said 41 people would go through the program this year to take the total to 146 since 2016.

She had worked with kids who had started out not being able to look her in the eye to having a new lease on life.

"In regards to result, for example last year we had 87 per cent of our young ppl obtain a training outcome through the program and over 60 per cent of those young people also transitioned into employment," she said.

"We do work with some of them most marganlisd people in our community and I think back to a young person that started with our program last year.

"He hadn't been engaged in school or training for three years, was completely disengaged from the community and school.

"He actually now has an apprenticeship and doing further training in the area. He's looking to go to university to study a business degree with the hopes down the line to have his own business.

"This was a young person that was not speaking to anyone on a day-to-day basis to now being engaged and having employment, having a qualification, doing further training and he's really excited. That's one of many successful outcomes for the program."

Tiani Black-Trench, 16, wants to become a barista.

"I've become more confident in all types of areas," she said.

"I used to be afraid of burning myself all the time and doing something wrong but I learnt you've got to learn form your mistakes."