The Motor Trades Association of Queensland (MTAQ and the Sunshine Coast and Caboolture Youth Justice Centres recently held a day of presentations and workshops focused on giving troubled youth a taste of training and employment opportunities within the automotive industry.

The Sunshine Coast Youth Justice Centre, which facilitates the supervision of young people up to 17 years of age who are under court orders, approached the MTAQ to co-organise and host the community focused initiative.

MTA Institute’s Operations Manager, Marcello Riotto said that the aim of the workshop was to introduce the young adults to the wide scope of career and training opportunities available within the automotive industry.

“What we have done is showcased automotive trades, and all the different training and employment outcomes available, such as auto-electrician, sales, diagnostics, motorcycles and heavy vehicle driving,” he said.

“We discussed opportunities around certain trades, introduced them to the auto workshop, and highlighted some of those trades. The paint and panel guys displayed their work, and I had them talking to some existing apprentices within their peer group about what it’s like working for a day in their trade. They were also able to see the insides of an engine, use some tools, rattle guns, remove and replace wheels.”

Mrs Jeanette Harvey, an Education and Employment Project Officer at the Caboolture and Sunshine Coast Youth Justice Centres, is responsible for mentoring these young people into realising learning and employment opportunities.

“Some of these guys are on Youth Justice Orders and are interested in getting back into some sort of training, education or employment. We try to guide them along that pathway wherever they might have an interest,” she said.

“Some of these young men don’t have effective male role models around them, or don’t have any inspirations about what they would like to do for a career. We work really hard to provide opportunities for these kids to experience different careers to help them make that choice.

“Young offenders, especially young males, are always keen on the automotive industry or some sort of trade, and it’s always work they are keen to do. Today has really been about showing them what opportunities are available to them.”

The teenagers were also shown the MTA Institute’s Tesla electric vehicle, and treated to a crash course in vehicle diagnostics, which is emerging as a highly desired skill set in the age of hybrid electric vehicles.

“This might inspire them to undertake a career they had not previously considered,” said Mr Riotto. “For MTAQ, its all about drawing people to the industry, and promoting the industry as one that is dynamic and full of opportunities, and to continue training the next generation of auto industry professionals.”