By Jeremy Rochow
Published: Wednesday, February 19, 2020
Without the Licence to Work program, which helps high school students get their driver’s licence, Ben Heubusch might’ve struggled to get into the hospitality industry.
Hospitality is a tough gig: odd hours, split shifts, late nights and early mornings. Due to the sporadic nature of shift work, not having a driver’s licence can make it even tougher.
Imagine an hour-long journey negotiating public transport to be in the kitchen by 10am, working the lunch shift, then having a three-hour break.
At 6pm you’re back at the pots and pans, delivering dinner to hungry diners before knocking off at 10pm and catching multiple buses to get home.
Thankfully that’s not the case for 18-year-old Ben Heubusch (pictured at top with Seaton High School Senior Youth Worker Ashleigh Brauer).
In fact, obtaining his driver’s licence through RAA’s Licence to Work program helped the former Seaton High School student gain employment as an apprentice chef.
A joint initiative by RAA, Western Futures, Anglicare and the Wyatt Foundation, the program helps young people complete the mandatory 75 hours of supervised driving required to get their provisional driver’s licence.
Ben overcame various challenges to graduate and receive his driver’s licence in 2019.
“Before I got my licence I had to rely on friends and family to take me where I needed to go,” Ben said.
“I’ve gained an apprenticeship at the Mile End Hotel, which is the best thing to come out of this program, otherwise I’d have to take buses to work. It makes life so much easier, and I’m so grateful to be a part of this program.”
RAA Senior Manager of Community Engagement, Ben Haythorpe, said employers preferred young people who had a licence, particularly in the hospitality industry.
For many young people, a driver’s licence is a lifeline. It represents a way to stay connected and an opportunity to access and enhance employment opportunities.
Licence to Work, which aims to help at least 90 young people get their licence over a 3-year period, is currently offered at Le Fevre, Seaton and Findon high schools.
Mr Haythorpe said RAA and its partners this year were expanding the program beyond the western suburbs.
RAA also has a new partner for 2020, with Red Cross providing funding for a second car so Licence to Work can expand into a total of 4 schools.
“We are happy to talk to anyone who can help roll out the program, whether it’s government or businesses,” he said.