Jaelen rediscovers his love of learning

16-year-old Jaelen from Collarenebri is now thriving in an apprenticeship thanks to the support and mentoring of his Head Teacher Careers Rachael Shearer and SBAT Engagement Officer Melissa Daskey, and the opportunities made available through the Educational Pathways Program.

Image: Jaelen working on a RoGator sprayer during his apprenticeship at Black Truck and AG Moree

Often struggling to motivate Jaelen to get out of bed, his parents Angela and Jasen could see his attendance at school slipping. When Jaelen was told he needed to attempt Year 10 for the second time, they knew something needed to change.

“I was a good, quiet kid, but school just wasn’t for me,” says Jaelen when we caught up over the phone.

“I didn’t enjoy having to sit at a desk all day and learn from books,” added the 16 year old.

Then at Collarenebri Central School in the far North West of NSW, Jaelen’s parents decided to meet with the school and explore options for his future. It was in these meetings that Head Teacher Careers Rachael Shearer and SBAT Engagement Officer Melissa Daskey got to know Jaelen and learned about his interest in trucks and heavy machines.

Rather than trying to push him back into the classroom, Rachael and Melissa explored options that would get Jaelen into a different learning environment and experiencing various industries.

The first opportunity was a week of work experience with Black Truck and AG, a truck and agricultural machinery dealer and servicer in Moree.

A 300km round trip from Collarenebri meant a week of 6am starts and 6pm finishes for Jaelen, which for someone who wasn’t getting out of bed only a few weeks prior, was an impressive change.

“After that week of work experience, I knew that was what I wanted to do,” says Jaelen.

Miles Renwick, the Operations Manager at Black Truck and AG Moree was impressed with Jaelen’s dedication and saw him come out of his shell during his work experience.

“He definitely became more confident. I see it a lot with our apprentices when they are working with adults all day,” says Miles.

After completing his work experience, Rachael and Melissa looked at other options together with Jaelen and his family, and thanks to the Educational Pathways Program, there were a few to decide between.

The next step for Jaelen was taking part in the TAFE NSW YES+ initiative and attending a taster course in engineering, which he also loved.

Jaelen then experienced the Civil Construction industry through the Educational Pathways Program’s Apprenticeship and traineeship head start initiative. With Group Training Organisation Yalagan Group, Jaelen attended the one-week course in Lightning Ridge, learning all about working at heights, elevated work platforms, forklifts, and the world of being an apprentice. He gained competencies that would prove very useful in his apprenticeship as a Heavy Diesel Mechanic.

“He was out of bed early, with no help from his parents, waiting for the bus each morning,” says Rachael.

When Jaelen told his parents he wanted to start an apprenticeship, they knew it was the right decision for him.

“Jaelen had a clear vision on his career pathway, and he set himself a goal,” explains Jaelen’s mother Angela.

With Rachael and Melissa’s guidance, and the support of his parents, Jaelen explored the possibility of commencing a full-time apprenticeship with Black Truck and AG Moree. But with an apprenticeship involving work from 8am to 5pm, commuting from Collarenebri to Moree each day wasn’t an option for a 16-year-old with a Learner Driver Licence.

“We had a chat with Jaelen and his parents to talk about him moving to Moree,” says Miles Renwick. “Moving anywhere by yourself at 16 is a huge commitment so we had to make sure it was the right decision for him.”

“I was very nervous about moving to Moree by myself,” explains Jaelen. Describing the first week as the hardest and a huge learning curve, he now proudly boasts that he cooks his own meals every day!

“He has come a long way in 2 years, and we are all proud beyond words of Jaelen’s achievements,” says Angela.

Jaelen and Angela both know this wouldn’t have been possible without his support network and are very thankful for the EPP team and Collarenebri Central School for supporting Jaelen to follow his career ambitions as a Heavy Diesel Mechanic.

“Over the last year when times were tough for Jaelen and he needed motivation, it was Rachael who would come to the rescue with a motivational talk,” says Angela.

“It would immediately boost his confidence and help him find his path once again.”

Rachael’s support also extended to sharing the driving with Jaelen’s parents to ensure he made it to Moree each day for that initial week of work experience.

Rachael and Melissa are as modest as they come and shrug this off as ‘just doing their job’. But it’s the dedication of people like them, and the opportunities provided through the Educational Pathways Program, that see students like Jaelen thrive.

“I’m working and getting paid, and I’ve never been happier,” says Jaelen.

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