Braiden standing outside

Always Pop’s Apprentice

Growing up, Braiden Courtney spent countless hours getting his hands dirty in his Pop’s garage working on cars. Pop quickly recognised Braiden’s talent for fixing things and took it as a great opportunity to spend more time with his grandson sharing their passion.


“I always got excited when Pop came into town after being away for work,” Braiden said. “He would invite me over to his place on the weekends to teach me how to repair his car.”

The consistent tinkering over the years fueled Braiden’s fascination for how things work, and he knew by senior school that he wanted a hands-on career where he could solve problems.

Despite knowing what type of job he wanted, during Year 12 at Djarragun College, Braiden started to feel uncertainty about how to chase his dream career. However, everything changed when Cape York Employment’s School to Jobs program hosted an information session at Djarragun College to discuss apprenticeship and traineeship pathways with senior students. Recognising the opportunity, Braiden eagerly attended the session, hopeful it would provide some answers.

Cape York First Nations people are amongst the most disadvantaged families in the nation with 70% of adults being dependent on welfare and without a job. Currently there is little support for our youth post school. School to Jobs, an initiative of Cape York Employment, provides intensive case management support to students from Djarragun College, including the Cape York Girl Academy. They connect school leavers to jobs and support them as they adapt to the workforce. They also support the employer to build inclusiveness in the workplace and safeguarding our youth away from welfare.


“BJ from School to Jobs delivered a really informative session,” Braiden said. “I could not resist but to approach him after his presentation to discuss steps to help me succeed. I knew I had to make myself as employable as possible, so I was happy to get the support of Schools to Jobs.”

BJ saw the passion in Braiden and invited him to attend a Skills to Lead workshop with Cape York Institute Leadership Academy (CYILA). Skills to Lead is the first stage of the CYILA journey and is designed to equip participants with the tools to take the next step in their career. It’s a unique program that uses art and experience to connect participants with like-minded peers and build their capacity to lead self and lead change.

During Skills to Lead, Braiden participated in a session around workplace etiquette, including wearing the right clothing for an interview or job and speaking with a right tone to people in the workplace.


“Thanks to those Skills to Lead sessions, I learnt a lot about how to conduct myself when entering a workplace,” Braiden said.

Braiden then took a proactive step and had conversations with the Cape York Partnership IT department, who were presenting during a Skills to Lead session. The conversation led to some work experience and then a formal traineeship, which Braiden is thoroughly enjoying.


“This opportunity has come to me, and I am grateful and excited to see where it may take me,” Braiden said. “You have to trust yourself and trust the process because it may lead into unknown environments which will help you grow,” Braiden said.

A few months in, Braiden is receiving support from S2J, with transport to and from work, and constant encouragement and nudges from BJ to stay focused on his traineeship.

While Braiden thinks he may still move into the automotive industry in the future, he is happy learning a different trade with transferable skills because he knows there will always be a place for him in the garage as “Pop’s apprentice”.


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