We are thrilled that this month two groups of students successfully completed the Hand Brake Turn course in face-to-face classes before the re-introduction of COVID-19 social restrictions.

While this month’s graduation ceremony remains on hold, we wanted to share how proud we are of these students and wish them all the best for the future.

It takes guts and determination to stick to learning when life gets hard, and life has certainly thrown curve balls at them this year. That these students stuck with the course is tremendous and illustrates how capable and resilient they are and how eager they are to learn and master new skills.

July 15 is World Youth Skills Day, and the theme this year is ‘Skills for Resilient Youth’. World Youth Skills Day highlights the importance of ensuring that young people have the skills to build a strong future for themselves. Before the current public health crisis, it was estimated that globally young people aged 15-24 were three times more likely than adults to be unemployed. In Australia, the youth unemployment rate increased from 14.1 per cent in April to 16.1 per cent in May.

With skills and training opportunities disrupted by the pandemic, and a contracting labour market due to the economic impacts of COVID-19, Hand Brake Turn’s work to provide vocational learning opportunities for at-risk and vulnerable young people will be more important than ever.

Jesse, who turned 16 this year, said that doing the Hand Brake Turn course had helped him to recognise a possible career path.

“I wanted to do Hand Brake Turn because I want to get experience in automotive,” Jesse said.

“Before doing the course I was in and out of school. I haven’t been to school in a while. Doing Hand Brake Turn, I learned how to do basic mechanics. Now I want to focus on school, and get a job working on cars. I like the people at Hand Brake Turn – they’re nice people, and it’s a good company.”

Nathan, also 16, said Hand Brake Turn will help him pursue his personal passion for vehicles.

“At home I work on dirt bikes and cars,” he said. “I was going to school – I kinda like school, but I don’t like the school uniform and it didn’t work for me. I want to get a job in carpentry and buy a HSV GTS.

“The Hand Brake Turn course was more for me, not so much a career plan. They are good skills to know. I wanted the experience. I enjoyed it, I got to do things I couldn’t do at home on cars. I learned about suspension stuff, I had no clue about that and learnt heaps of stuff. I really appreciated the support preparing a resume too. That was great. Thank you for the mad experience!”

Hand Brake Turn Business Development Administrator Jonathan Sugumar said that the experience of the first pandemic lockdown had contributed to the students’ enthusiasm to apply themselves to their studies.

“The students were so excited to be out of the house,” Jonathan said. “Many were calling the week before to make sure we were still going ahead! There was a real sense of joy with our cross-site excursions and trips to car part yards.

“Hand Brake Turn classes always have a mix of challenges and fun moments. This group of students has been a joy to get to know and work with. Many of them will definitely launch into great things from here.”

Jonathan said that complying with physical distancing and hygiene requirements didn’t have too much of an impact on the classes.

“We found that in the overall picture social restrictions didn’t affect our classes directly,” he said. “Indirectly, the need to clean surfaces and maintain seating distance in the classroom was one of the major changes, but it’s not too much extra work, and it means we know that when social restrictions ease, we can have young people back in the workshops and learning skills for their future.”

But wait … we have even more to celebrate this World Youth Skills Day.

When social restrictions are scaled back, three of our graduates will get a further opportunity to develop their skills. Each of them has been offered a three-month placement with the Hand Brake Turn fiXit program, which gives young people who have completed the initial Hand Brake Turn seven-week course the chance to gain practical work experience.

These graduates will work alongside Hand Brake Turn staff Yahye, Josh and Phil two days a week fixing up donated cars that are then sold or gifted to members of the community who are in need, along with servicing cars for Concern Australia staff, community partners and members of the public. Nathan and Jesse have both been offered fiXit roles in Braybrook, and Matt in Dandenong.

You can continue to support Jesse, Nathan and Matt by donating a car, or booking your car in for a service at our Braybrook or Dandenong sites. For more information, go to our Hand Brake Turn page.

You can also support future Hand Brake Turn students by making a secure online donation now.