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Mitch Barnes

Renewal SA’s Works Program is proving a gateway for aspiring landscapers like Mitchell Barnes and Zane Hyslop within the Playford Alive project in Adelaide’s northern suburbs.

Mitchell, recipient of the 2021 Playford Alive Local Hero Award for Best Trainee or Apprentice Working with an Employer, story reflects the initiative’s transformative impact. His dedication through the yourtown pre-employment program and the Works Program has propelled him into an apprenticeship at GreenInc, one of Bedford’s new social enterprises, while studying a Certificate III in Landscape Construction at Tafe SA Urrbrae.

Mitchell's enthusiasm and ambition reflect his commitment to a long-term career in the field.

"Landscape is probably the best thing that's happened to me," Mitchell says. "I absolutely love being outdoors, love planning, love doing my job. I'm learning a whole heap of new skills; it's changed my life completely. I’ll hopefully work up the ranks to be supervisor or project manager – I see myself staying in this company for a good 20 to 30 years.”

Zane also highlights the program's positive influence following a similar pathway to his coworker. Recently becoming a homeowner in Playford Alive, Zane credits the program for his newfound stability and success.

GreenInc supervisor, Bruce Leigh, says these programs play an important role in providing young people with a strong foundation for their future careers.

"The opportunities that they get are brilliant, and you really get what you give," Bruce remarks. “They’re doing irrigation, planting, fertilising, mulching, turfing… and with all that, you have a lot of prep work and levels, laser levels, using that measurement to get the plants bang on for the client. It makes some perfectionists I guess, and that's what we're after.”

Mitchell and Zane's stories serve as inspiring testaments to the power of initiatives like yourtown and the Works Program in nurturing talent, fostering career growth, and transforming lives.

As Mitchell encourages: “Get your name out there and work yourself up the ranks. You start from the scratch but give it years, put hard yakka in, and you'll get there in the end.”

Both Mitchell and Zane were referred to GreenInc to fulfill work experience commitments with GreenInc’s Renewal SA contract at Playford Alive. Mitchell will complete his apprenticeship in 2025 and Zane will complete his apprenticeship in 2027.

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