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Case study - YouthTransition to Work

From struggle to success: Zach’s new career in finance

By August 7, 2023August 9th, 2023No Comments
A man and a woman stand next to each other in front of a coloured curtain

Zachary, 18, walked into our Workforce Australia – Transition to Work program in Atherton in December 2022, with more than just a job on his mind. Since his early teens, he had been living independently of his family, was in overcrowded housing, and needed to look for work, but didn’t know where to start.

Just seven months later, he commenced a full-time paid traineeship with Westpac. 

Intensive support for young Zach

Makayla Bell is Zach’s Youth Mentor and started meeting him at least weekly from Jobfind’s Atherton office. 

 “At our initial appointment it became clear that Zach had a lot of unmet needs, so we immediately prioritised his wellbeing and survival needs like food and housing,” says Makayla.

 Makayla connected Zach to multiple community services for extra support, including Better Together and Healthfind for his wellbeing. The food pantry she set up in the Jobfind office was also another resource for Zach, supporting him to attend his appointments and pick up some essential food items. 

Food pantry at Jobfind Atherton

The food pantry at Jobfind Atherton

After a work trial at the local McDonald’s, Zach succeeded in securing a job as a drive-through attendant, but Makayla’s support did not stop there.

“We worked together on improving Zach’s functional maths so he could become more proficient at the money handling aspect of his new job,” explains Makayla

At the same time, Makayla used the government’s Employment Fund to purchase a new phone for Zach so that he could access his work roster and remain connected to all his support services.   

Securing safe and stable housing for Zach was another priority. To achieve this, Makayla and Zach diligently researched his tenancy rights and eventually found an affordable and secure room for him to rent. 

Then, when Zach needed medical attention, Makayla found him a GP, dentist and optometrist and even accompanied him to his eye appointment. 

 “Accessing primary health care services can be difficult in our regional area, but especially if you are a young person on your own,” says Makalya. 

Preparing Zach with skills and confidence

From the beginning, Makayla was impressed with Zach’s resilience and willingness to learn. 

“He even asked me to take him shopping to pick out appropriate interview clothes and then I taught him how to iron his clothes and take up a hem. 

A young man hems and irons a trouser

Zach learning to hem and iron his work trousers

While working at McDonald’s, Zach also undertook two vocational courses. This enabled Zach to qualify with a Certificate II in Work Skills and commence a Certificate III in Business.

Six months after commencing his Transition to Work program, Zachary readily embraced the next work challenge that Makalya presented to him: applying for a banking traineeship with Westpac. 

Zach secures a fulltime traineeship in banking and finance 

 When Makayla saw the traineeship pathway for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people at Westpac, she was quick to encourage Zach to apply.  

“Through work and study, he had developed great employability skills, was articulate, and had identified an interest in data entry, so we jumped on the Westpac opportunity,” says Makayla. 

 Together, Makayla and Zach prepared intensely for his application. When Zach was offered an interview, he and Makayla practised for a wide range of interview questions, ensuring Zach could confidently articulate his strengths and experiences.  

Their preparation paid off, and Zach was offered the coveted Indigenous Bank Teller traineeship with Westpac in Mareeba. 

 To accept his new position, Zach needed to move closer to work, and so, Jobfind supported him to find accommodation and move into his new home. 

Young man in Jobfind's Transition to Work ready for his interview

Zach ready for his interview for the Westpac traineeship

On 31 July 2023, Zach started the one-year traineeship in banking with Westpac.  By completing this career pathway, Zach will get a nationally accredited qualification in financial services, experience in the financial services industry, along with full-time paid employment. 

Zachary and Youth Mentor Makayla on his induction day with Westpac

Makalya is delighted for Zach and says: “I’m so proud of him. He put the work in and took advantage of every opportunity we presented him with.”

Good luck, Zach. All of us at Jobfind can’t wait to see where your career in finance takes you! 


About Transition to Work

Workforce Australia-Transition to Work is a government-funded employment and education service for young people.

If you’re aged 15 to 24 and you left school early, or you’re having difficulty finding a job after school, the Transition to Work program can help.

The program can help you into work, apprenticeships and training, or education.

Jobfind offers Transition to Work in Cairns and surrounding areas.

To enquire or read more about Jobfind’s specialised employment and education support for young people, click here.