$200,000 funding dumped by government

MORE than 400 local teenagers a year will be left out in the cold because of a "shortsighted'' decision by the federal government.

For seven years the Job Pathways Centre (JPC) has helped local youngsters face the daunting transition from school to the workplace.

But now the federal department of Employment Science and Training has cut the $200,000 used for the program.

Gladstone Area Group Apprentices Ltd (GAGAL) general manager Kerry Whitaker described the decision as short sighted.

'The numbers speak for themselves.

'This region wants this program to continue. This region needs this program to be funded,' she said.

Seventeen-year-old Luke Halliwell hopes to get an electrical apprenticeship, but with out the help of the program he said he would not know where to turn.

'It's (the program) been really good, it has done a lot to help me with stuff I haven't been able to do myself,' he said.

Luke added it would be hard for others like him to secure a job without the help of the program.

'I feel sorry for them, it will be hard for them to do it on their own,' he said.

The program is targeted at children identified as being 'at risk' of becoming detached from the education system.

Program facilitator Julie Wood has worked one-on-one with the people who have benefited from the program.

'I don't know what's going to happen to these kids, they will probably become at risk without the program,' Ms Wood said.

Bernice Thompson has had two children go through the program and said she could not believe the lack of foresight in cutting its funding.

'I think they really are doing the community and Gladstone region a disservice by cutting the program,' she said.

The government plans to replace the program with one that services an area from the South Australian border to the Central Queensland coastline but will only be facilitated by one staff member.

Ms Whitaker said GAGAL would not be tendering for the new program because it could not service the needs of the region with only one person running it.

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