Tactile Learning Centre (TLC) is a family-run company that provides school-based traineeships in Queensland for Year 11 and Year 12 students.
TLC takes youths, many of whom are struggling academically, and provides them with an opportunity to gain a Certificate II in Automotive Mechanical through the centre, as well as offering points towards high school graduation.
But for Gordon Kelly, director of the Brisbane-based organisation, it’s about more than just providing a qualification.
“We’ll take kids that come to use with quite damaged self esteem,” he explains. “They might say ‘I can’t do anything well’ or ‘This will be better than going to school because I never do well at school’.”
“But when they leave here, I try to instil in them the values of themselves – everyone is gifted differently.”
TLC takes on kids with a broad range of difficulties, whether it’s mild mental illness, literacy problems or behavioural issues.
The organisation also helps many refugee children that may not speak English as their first language.
“The students sign up to do a mechanics course and they accidentally learn how to do conflict resolution, negotiations, team-working, interviews and how to dress for work,” Gordon adds.
“That’s our main thrust, because with those skills they can get a job.”
How BUSY At Work helps
Currently, TLC signs up 12 students every six months to its mechanical course – which requires significant interaction between the company, the kids and the Queensland government.
According to Gordon, it can be a complicated process that involves a heavy paperwork burden to ensure funding is received.
This is where BUSY At Work, Queensland’s leading Australian Apprenticeships Centre, is able to provide much-needed support and guidance.
Emma Dickson, industry training consultant at BUSY, alleviates the majority of this administrative headache by working closely with TLC on a regular basis.
“I organise the training contracts, I’ll go out and see the schools and students, and get the training contracts signed between them and Tactile,” she explains.
“That enables them to access government funding. Without that funding it wouldn’t be viable for them.”
Gordon says this support is essential for ensuring the whole process runs smoothly, but not only this, he claims it is the personal element of what BUSY does that sets them apart from other agencies.
“One of the main reasons I deal with Emma and BUSY At Work is that Emma actually goes the extra mile” he says.
“She actually comes in and meets the kids, gets to know them and gives them the support they need to fill in the forms.”
“She’s actually a real sweetheart. She puts in a lot of effort, and the positive thing is that she’s actually part of the team,” Gordon says.
The end result
Using BUSY’s services has enabled TLC to cut the amount of time they spend dealing with administrative issues, meaning the company can concentrate on helping the kids.
And Gordon says this not only relieves a lot of the stress and trauma of the process, but has enabled TLC to explore growth opportunities and expand.
Emma adds that providing one point of contact can be tremendously helpful and TLC can also gain access to BUSY’s network to help the kids find further opportunities after the course is over.
But for her, one of the most incredible parts of working with TLC is the transformation seen in the children.
“Some of the kids when they start they won’t even make eye contact with you, so the feeling at the end when they graduate is fantastic,” she says.
“They come up and say this is the best thing that has ever happened to me and their parents come up and say the same. It’s very rewarding.”
Gordon agrees, adding that the hands-on dedication and personable approach of Emma and BUSY are key to their ongoing relationship.
“Without BUSY doing their part, we couldn’t make this happen,” he says.