construction skills project offered 15-17 year-old boys in the outer
western suburbs of Sydney the opportunity to overcome negative attitudes
to education and training. The project started with a team-building
camp, followed by practical outdoor activities, which allowed participants
to learn by doing. Two of the group went on to further training
as a result of the project.
Ltd offers a range of employment and vocational education and training
activities in the outer western suburbs of Sydney. These focus on
areas such as landscaping, clerical and office administration and
The Centre has
found it difficult to recruit and maintain the involvement of young
men in its HELP program, which runs for six hours a day over 20
weeks. Young men in the HELP target group have had little or no
employment in their family for two or three generations. The absence
of a work role model has led to a negative attitude towards work,
exacerbated by low participation and success rates at school.
the young men were turned off by the structure of the HELP program
and what they regarded as an unnecessarily repetitive re-induction
session each morning. Job-search programs run by TAFE have a similar
structure and thus hold no interest for the target group.
designed a Strategic Pilot Project to attract young men from the
above target group. Through the twelve-week project they aimed to:
- improve participants'
literacy and numeracy skills
- develop building
construction and team work skills
- improve communication,
conflict resolution, negotiation and problem solving skills
- offer a relaxed
and less structured learning environment
- prepare participants
for the work environment and develop their understanding of the
need for forward planning in life.
From the very
start, Mamre Plains worked at creating a non-classroom environment.
Stage One was a four-day camp, followed by nine weeks of training
in design, costings, and the construction of feeding enclosures
for horses. The final two weeks were devoted to job search activities.
was advertised locally and through CentreLink as a construction/building
course with an optional job-search component. Ten 15-17 young men
were accepted into the project.
camp held at Lithgow involved adventure learning activities such
as rock-climbing, abseiling and camping.
These activities and participants' responses to them, were discussed
over the four days and built into discussions in later stages of
There were mixed
responses to the project. Three participants completed the project
and successfully constructed an enclosure for horses on agistment.
These three were very motivated and persisted with each phase of
the project despite the negative attitudes of other participants,
who eventually dropped out of the course.
enjoyed the camp, displaying a marked improvement in social teamwork
skills. In this environment they had to become more interactive
and help each other, thus increasing their level of inter-personal
Of the three
participants who finished the training, one enrolled in a roof tiling
apprenticeship and another in an English for the Workplace course
after having his literacy and numeracy levels re-assessed by Centrelink.
positive outcomes would not have been achieved without the intensive
approach of the Strategic Pilot Project.
succeeded with the three participants because they could identify
tangible results. They gained considerable satisfaction from constructing
the enclosure and could see for themselves what could be achieved,
given the necessary skills and opportunity.
on outdoor activities, with only a small amount of classroom work,
suited the learning styles of the target group.
will run the project again. With the benefit of hindsight, they
will ensure that the project is not promoted as a Centrelink prerequisite
and schedule the camp a little later in the project, so that staff
have time to get to know participants.
They will also
target 18-20 year-olds and seek referrals from a wider range of
agencies and through personal contacts.