A NEW Border program giving young jobless people a leg-up in life is already kicking goals.
Road2Wheels was designed to help unemployed and disadvantaged youth to gain their driver’s licence with the ultimate aim of getting a job.
ATEL Employment Services launched the program in Albury-Wodonga and Wagga just nine weeks ago.
Albury woman Claire Healey, 20, said she had gained a job internship and casual work since joining Road2Wheels at Albury Wodonga Community College in September.
She got a four-week internship at Albury cafe Urban Graze and work at Smokemart and Giftbox Wodonga over Christmas.
“It really gave me a lot of confidence,” she said.
“I’d been unemployed for 12 months. To be able to say to a potential employer, I’ll have my driver’s licence in the near future makes a big difference.
“I’m so happy; I have had my Ls for four years and without this course I’d have never got my Ps.”
Aimed at youth aged 16-24, Road2Wheels is funded as part of the Empowering Youth Initiative through the Federal Department of Employment and co-ordinated through ATEL offices in Albury-Wodonga and Wagga.
ATEL representative Garry Brook, a program trainer/mentor, said Road2Wheels aimed to help the students get their learners or provisional licences, save for their first car in some cases and get a job.
He said the students got access to professional driving lessons through Border companies while he also took them out for practice.
“In regional areas, without having a driver’s licence and being able to drive a car, it is difficult to obtain secure employment, so we are helping the group to achieve this important goal,” he said.
“We also teach the students life-skills such as resume writing, how to prepare for a job interview and even provide nutritional advice.
“There has been a massive response to the program from both the Albury-Wodonga and Wagga regions with many businesses and organisations supporting and assisting us.”
Of 75 applicants for Road2Wheels in Wodonga, 25 were chosen to do the 12-month course, which included the nine-week classroom component.
Road2Wheels student Tamika Milne said Mr Brook was a generous and compassionate mentor.
“He’s very calm, cool and collected when we go out driving with him,” she said.
“It doesn’t feel like a test; it feels more like a family member helping you out.
“The only thing is while driving around we have to put up with his ‘funny’ dad jokes!”