Students in Year 12 and 13 at Cambridge High School can explore their post-high school options and get a taste of the career they’d like to pursue through the school’s Gateway programme, supported by coordinator Liz Wilson.
What really makes the difference for the students, said Liz, is the support from local businesses that makes these learning experiences possible.
The programme works by giving students one day per week of full-time, unpaid work experience in the field of their interest, across a ten-week period. Some students enjoy the experience so much that they continue the work past the ten-day minimum, and, in some cases, gain employment.
That was the case for Logan Henderson, a year 12 student at Cambridge High School who will start full time work with Cambridge company C&R Developments at the end of this month, after wrapping up his final school year.
“I wanted to be a mechanic for a long time,” explained Logan, who has spent most of this year doing the Gateway programme with the company. “I started working here and I really liked it from the first day, on the second day I asked for a job,” he laughed, “I got told to wait and see.”
Logan is one of several Gateway students employed by C&R Developments in recent years after completing the programme with them.
“Without businesses like C&R, this programme wouldn’t be possible,” said Liz, who wants to encourage other local businesses to get involved with the Gateway programme. “They don’t have to employ them, it’s just about giving them the experience. And it’s really supporting our community in a positive way.”
“It (Gateway) is a really good programme, I reckon everyone should have a go at it,” said Cory Fisher, 22, the first Gateway student employed by C&R in 2013. “I think I’ve always known I wanted to be in the mechanic side of things, I always mucked around with little engines and, getting into this bigger stuff is just a dream really.”
21-year-old George Hudson, who did the Gateway programme in 2015, said he nagged Simon Ross, one of the four Ross brothers who founded C&R Developments, for a job for a few weeks until he “gave in”. “It’s a great environment to be in, working here,” he said.
Simon Ross said they were happy to help guide the next generation into the industry, and liked the fact that it gave them the chance to teach them the correct methods, getting things the right way the first time, without developing bad or incorrect habits.
“We get to train them the way we want to train them,” Simon said. “The older guys in the work force, they’ve got all the knowledge, so really it’s about trying to get it out and teach these young guys, because if they don’t hand it on it all comes to a grinding halt.”
“Simon gets them and then I have to deal with them,” joked Rob Schwartz, who directs the young workers. “It can be a little challenging at times,” he laughed, “but these guys are pretty good. They get thrown in the deep end quite a lot, but there’s a lot of people here who don’t mind helping, steering and giving advice.”
Liz said she hoped more businesses would sign up with the school’s Gateway programme, which supports students into work experience across almost every industry.