All too often we hear stories about young people having to move away from the Manning-Great Lakes in order to find work. However, as we discovered recently, there’s a fantastic initiative that’s been set up by McDonald’s Taree together with Nortec Taree, a local employment Service provider, known as “A Day in the Life” – which provides long term unemployed locals with valuable work experience and training to improve and increase their future employment prospects, and, as a result, the opportunity for long-term and sustainable employment. We spoke recently with Colin Russel, Monique Barber and Rebecca McKellar about their involvement in this initiative and their career journey so far.
Hi! Please tell our readers a bit about yourselves.
Colin: I have lived in the Taree/Forster area most of my life. I have a partner and three children – who are all a big part of my life.
Rebecca: I’m married with four children. We moved from the Hawkesbury to the Manning Valley in 2015, with my husband becoming the carer for his mum.
Monique: I’ve been living here all my life. I come from a happy-go-lucky hard working family, and I’m an only child.
Can you give us a snapshot of your education background, together with the challenges you faced when trying to obtain employment in the past?
Colin: I attended Chatham High School until Year 8, when I left to work as a diesel mechanic, which saw me working in a few different jobs throughout my teens before taking on work in the family business. I actually found it quite easy to gain employment, but sustainable employment in the area was certainly hard to get!
Rebecca: I left school at the end of Year 11 to marry and raise a family. My husband worked so that I could be a stay at home mum to our four children. When our youngest child went to school and I started to look for work, I found it very daunting! I had no idea what to put in a resumé, as I had never worked. I knew I could do lots of things (as a mum, you do lots!) but I found it hard to gain employment, as I had no work experience, or the certificates that certain jobs required. So, my options were very limited.
Monique: I went to Taree High School until Year 11, when I decided to leave and obtain a job in Disability Services. Unfortunately, I found that I was unable to gain secure employment – being knocked back due to lack of experience – so I decided to go to TAFE to improve my chances.
Monique, can you share with our readers what the turning point was for you in this process and journey around finding employment in the area?
The turning point for me was being accepted for “A Day in the Life”, and after being rejected for so many other jobs, it was good to be given the opportunity to show my potential. It was a huge boost to my confidence, especially when I was hired!
Rebecca, what does it mean to you to have a career and income and the lifestyle that goes with that?
It feels great to have a job, and it has helped so much with my confidence and self-esteem, and I have also made some great friends, which has been a huge bonus; plus, it’s been great having money coming in and not having to worry so much about how I was going to be able to pay for things like school excursions for the children, or just going out for the day as a family.
Colin, so often we hear so many stories about people who eventually choose to leave the area to chase work. What does it mean to you to be able to stay in the area now that your future is more secure?
The biggest thing for me is that I can stay close to family, and that I don’t have to make my partner and children move anywhere, change schools etc. so I can try to find employment.
Monique, can you tell us what your goals are for the future now that you’ve secured steady work with McDonald’s through the “A Day in the Life” initiative?
My goal is to buy a house in the area, to keep moving up in my career at McDonald’s, and to never doubt myself again.
Rebecca, what advice would you give people who find themselves in a similar situation to the one you were in?
My advice would be that if someone offers you an opportunity – grab it! Even if you think you can’t, you’ll never know unless you give it a try. Another thing would be to not give up, because if you keep trying and do all the right things, it will happen!
Interview: Ingrid Bayer.