Back in the workforce
SOME residents are starting to feel more at ease after the Wallangarra job crisis, after beginning an education program.
The program is an initiative of Challenge Employment and Neato Employment with the help of the Southern Downs Regional Council, to expand the knowledge and skills of some of the Granite Belt's unemployed.
The 16 participants, five of which were from the Meatworks, started the course last Friday and are working towards receiving a Cert III in Horticulture, which will give them a range of skills.
The program is under Cert III guarantee funding, and came about after the Wallangarra job fair held during August.
Challenge Employment business development officer Tanya Stroud said there had been a lot of interest in the program.
"A lot of the meatworkers didn't know what they were going to do now,” she said.
"I also had Neato Employment Agency, they contacted me and said they had quite a few Work for the Dole people that wouldn't mind doing a Cert III in horticulture. "So we married those cohorts up and I've approached the council and they've given us some work to do.”
During the course, participants will be maintaining the park and cemetery in Wallangarra, as well as working with the Whistle Stop Garden, making a water feature from an old drain.
They will also be working for ArtWorks Granite Belt, where the program is run.
This is the first program on the Granite Belt and is so far a success.
"They're really loving it,” Mrs Stroud said. "Some of these clients are ones that have been long term unemployed, so sometimes re-engaging them takes a little while... but they've engaged straight away.”
Part of the course also includes undertaking two weeks of work placement.
"We're also looking for employers who are willing to take people on work placement,” Mrs Stroud said. She also hopes it will lead to permanent employment for at least some of the participants.
"If they make a good impression on their work placement, they're likely to get employment out of that,” she said.
"A lot of these people have done farm work before, so they do have experience, but with the Cert III, they might be able to go in supervising or leading hands type positions instead and they're excited about that.”
Employers who take on workers full-time and meet other conditions are eligible for a $10,000 state government subsidy.
There are also still spaces available in the course.
For more information contact Mrs Stroud on 32828000.