Paul Dawson has this week been appointed as the new co-ordinator of a program to give young people in the New England skills in agriculture and future job opportunities as well as help overcome local skills shortages.
Mr Dawson will be welcomed to the role of AgLads co-ordinator by Greater Building Society Armidale branch manager Wendy Ng on May 21. The Greater is funding Mr Dawson’s salary this year as part of a $110,000 donation to local charity BackTrack for its the AgLads program, allowing a dedicated co-ordinator to be employed. Funding is also being used for program related costs and a University of New England evaluation of the program.
Ms Ng will visit Mr Dawson and the Ag Lad’s team at an Armidale property where they will be wood cutting.
Mr Dawson said Winter is a good time for the AgLads crew to learn wood cutting skills. He said local people need firewood. The team will sell some of the wood to raise additional income for their program and donate some to those in need.
“The boys learn a practical skill, business opportunities and also about lending a hand to other people,” Mr Dawson said.
The practical skills session is typical of the training he will co-ordinate for young people on local training farms and other properties. The young people will acquire accredited skills in fencing, stock handling, heavy machinery and other agricultural elements.
AgLads is a program supporting young people having a hard time. BackTrack manager and founder Bernie Shakeshaft said Mr Dawson had the right skills and attitude to connect the AgLads’ participants with their education and training, to become work ready, find jobs, lead happy and productive lives and participate fully in the community.
Born and bred in Armidale, Mr Dawson grew up on a property. He has spent the past two years managing a local sheep, cattle and cropping property.
The 36 year old has three step children. He said his years of experience in the hospitality industry will also equip him to work with the diverse range of program participants as well as other stakeholders. He said he is looking forward to being part of a such a positive and beneficial program.
“I said to the AgLads team that I wouldn’t be where I was today without a helping hand from other people,” Mr Dawson said.
“This role will help me to give something back to the young men and women in the program and do something positive for the community,” he said.
The funding for the role has come from the $1.5 million The Greater promised to spend over 10 years in the New England when it merged with Armidale Building Society.
BackTrack is a not for profit organisation, established in 2006, operating under Jobs Australia Enterprises. It also operates four other programs – The Paddock Classroom, Iron Man Welders, Paws Up, and Links to Learning. The Greater has been helping the people of the New England with their banking for 45 years. It has local branches in Armidale, Tamworth and Gunnedah.