Three young Fraser Coast residents are set to take the next steps in their careers after successfully completing traineeships with the Hervey Bay Neighbourhood Centre.

Alana Boan, Caylenn Taylor and Shaye Whitehead all took on their traineeships just months before COVID-19 turned work on its head.

With the support of HBNC staff, however, all three were able to complete their traineeships, gaining valuable skills and qualifications along the way.

Their hard work has paid off, with all three securing extended contracts with HBNC.

The traineeships are run as part of HBNC’s social enterprise, The Wandering Teapot.

TWT’s tea and café sales continue to help fund work aimed at ending local poverty and homelessness, while creating job opportunities for at-risk young people.

Alana, who worked as trainee team leader while completing a Certificate III in Retail, said the experience had built her skills and confidence.

Having struggled to re-enter the workforce after having three children, she said the traineeship had helped give her a new purpose and direction.

“I now know where I want to go in life,” Alana said.

“The most rewarding part of my traineeship has been learning new skills, meeting new people and feeling like I am valued, encouraged and appreciated.

“I have learnt how to cater for large crowds, how to lead a team and how to manufacture a product.”

Alana said it had not all been easy, as the pandemic had thrown a major spanner in the works.

“Some challenges I had to overcome were COVID and our tea store closing down, but I was re-deployed into the Neighbourhood Centre and I have been supported incredibly well and inspired by the staff here and all the amazing things they do,” she said.

Shaye, who gained valuable reception experience while completing a Certificate III in Hospitality, agreed COVID-19 had thrown up unexpected obstacles.

“COVID-19 was a large hurdle to jump throughout my traineeship, as it was for most people but HBNC was a massive help as I fortunately only had one week out of work and then I was back in there, which I greatly appreciate,” Shaye said.

“My traineeship has prepared me to deal with a multitude of people with diverse backgrounds, those experiencing homelessness and working with a variety of different organisations.”

Both Shaye and Caylenn had been out of work for more than a year before landing their traineeships.

Caylenn, who worked in the Wandering Teapot Café inside the community centre while completing a Certificate III in Hospitality, said the experience had helped build her confidence.

“I believe I now have very good customer service skills as I don’t have anxiety with talking to new people anymore. It has also aided me with my time management skills and working under pressure efficiently,” Caylenn said.

HBNC traineeships are supported by First Start, a Department of Employment, Small Business and Training program.