FIRST ANNIVERSARY: Harley Stokes and Warwick Sandblast and Powderpaint manager Lauren Batterham with dog Kate are celebrating one year since Harley joined the team.
FIRST ANNIVERSARY: Harley Stokes and Warwick Sandblast and Powderpaint manager Lauren Batterham with dog Kate are celebrating one year since Harley joined the team. Elyse Wurm

Working on skills for life

AFTER three years of unemployment, Harley Stokes needed a business to give him a break.

Warwick Sandblast and Powderpaint gave him the foot in the door he sought and now he is celebrating his first employment anniversary with the company.

Mr Stokes was employed through the Back to Work Program, expanded in this year's State Budget to offer $50 million in funding to support businesses in hiring jobseekers aged 15-24.

He's learnt how to rebuild a sandblaster from top to bottom, weld and offer great customer service.

"Pretty much anything that comes in I can fix it now,” he said.

"The confidence has gone through the roof.”

The motivation, freedom and happiness he has picked up through the position have made the biggest difference to his life.

"When you're stuck at home you don't want to do anything and get stuck in a rut, become a hermit,” Mr Stokes said.

"I have goals now, I'm trying to get my licence.”

Moving from Beaudesert to Warwick to pursue the opportunity, Mr Stokes said unemployment is a concerning issue for youth in the community.

"There's nothing for kids to do or it's not what interests them,” he said.

"It's boredom, people don't want to deal with it and push it aside.

"I'd come from not very well off so I want to have something in life and look back on my life and be happy.”

Warwick Sandblast and Powderpaint manager Lauren Batterham said the business had received ongoing support from MAX Employment and Mission Australia Employment from the time Harley was hired.

Making the new recruit feel at home was the top priority so he appreciated his value, he is one of many jobseekers the company has helped get back into the workforce.

"Harley's great, he's learnt so much since he's started working here,” Ms Batterham said.

"Some people don't have that guidance in life or that positive encouragement from people.

"You can't discriminate because someone hasn't had the same start.”



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