Thursday, September 21, 2023


Mackay and Whitsunday Life

Work Boost For Local Youth

Although Scott Lynch’s job is all about equipping Whitsunday youth with the necessary tools to achieve their employment goals, he is always excited when a participant comes to him with an update of success, especially one with such a fairy-tale ending.

Scott runs the Get Set For Work Program, operating through PCYC Whitsundays, equipping 15 to 19 year-olds with skills, qualifications, confidence and support to find employment that aligns with their talents and skills, after leaving school.

It was here he was introduced to Xannon Smoothy.

At only 15 years old, Xannon was disenfranchised with his employment prospects, having deemed himself not able to finish high school and not good enough for real work.

“When I met him, he told me he wanted to return to school but was upset because he didn’t think he could,” explained Scott.

“He told me he’d like to be a tradesman, but he felt that because of his age and the fact that he was expelled from school would really hurt his chances, like it was some faraway dream.

“But it was obvious to me that Xannon was special, he had something in him, and we knew he would go far.”

Completing the 10-week program, Xannon immediately got employment at Mitre 10, on the floor helping tradies as they came into the store.

“But before that,” Scott said.

“I approached Tim Murphy, from TM Constructions.

“Tim had an apprenticeship going, and I wanted to put Xannon forward, but Tim was concerned as Xannon was only 15 and didn’t have a license yet.”

However, it wasn’t long before Tim wandered into Mitre 10 and met Xannon by chance.

This one encounter impressed him so much that he offered him a job.

“Xannon was the only kid to come up and ask if I needed a hand,” Tim explained.

“He’ll get to work and if there isn’t anything, he’ll grab a broom and sweep; that is something near impossible to teach anyone.

“He’s impressive, and he’s fit right in with the other boys.

“Xannon has great work ethic. Yes, he doesn’t have a license yet, and he’s got to build some muscle, but he’s willing to give anything a go.”

For Xannon, receiving this apprenticeship has meant a lot to him.

“This is something I’ve wanted for a while now; I’ve always found it interesting,” he said.

“The program helped me a lot. At first, I wasn’t sure, but it turns it, I was wrong.”

Scott knew it wouldn’t be long before a tradie saw Xannon’s potential.

Xannon was only with Mitre 10 for one month before Tim walked in the door with an offer.

“It was such a huge moment when Xannon rang us about the apprenticeship, and it was made extra brilliant by the fact it was with Tim.

“He’s just such a deserving kid, and it’s a remarkable story.”

Even Sergeant Billy Li, Youth Club Manager of the PCYC, recognised Xannon’s potential, offering him a leadership training opportunity.

“Unfortunately, he turned that down, but it’s been great to see him succeed,” Sgt Billy said.

For Scott, his participants have gone into marine trades, mechanic apprenticeships, and carpentry, with other participants returning to school.

To learn more about Get Set For Work, contact PCYC Whitsundays Club on (07) 4948 1144 or

Get Set for Work is one of eight programs that make up the Queensland Government’s Skilling Queenslanders for Work initiative.

Sergeant Billy Li, Scott Lynch, Xannon Smoothy, and Tim Murphy. Photo credit: Bronte Hodge

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