Kart job stirs teens
YOUNG Reece Gomes doesn't have a licence but is looking forward to driving one of the rarest machines in the country, an electronic go-kart, which he and a couple of his mates helped to build, thanks to Wollongbar TAFE.
"My family thought I was mad because of the way it looks, that it actually goes and it's working," the 16-year-old said.
Reece was in a group of eight young Aboriginal boys from Coraki and Box Ridge aged 15 to 18 who spent 12 weeks building the go-kart at Wollongbar TAFE.
"These young boys have disengaged from school and the project was a way of putting the idea of further learning on their agenda," said North Coast TAFE Aboriginal community development and Aboriginal engagement consultant, Glenn Woods.
"You can't just make demands and expect them to walk back into a structured academic space."
"The idea was to give the boys a friendly and interesting way to go about engaging them with educational training.
"The boys have been really interested. It's given them a taste of what they can do and they've learnt some skills around planning and design trade work with welding electrical work."
Their teacher at Wollongbar TAFE, Chris Ruane, who is also a local go-kart club member, said the students were really keen. "These young fellows had really great enthusiasm. You could see their eyes light up when you were bending and welding stuff for them."
"I give them full credit for what they've done. Some of the skills these kids have are well and truly at the level of pre-apprentices and first year apprentices. So for some it's just nurturing those skills and getting them into a trade or similar field."
TAFE NSW Aboriginal learning liaison officer Dale Roberts said Reece's efforts were rewarded with a trophy.
"Reece was the leading kid of the group. He was the first one to put up his hand in the group to do anything."
Mr Woods said that the success of this program had led to the development of a small motors program which took what the boys had learnt to another level.
For Reece, it might just be a path back into school.
"Yeh, I probably might want to do an apprenticeship or maybe do this as a job one day. I felt pretty proud when everyone saw it at Coraki. I felt good about it because I built it."