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Lessons to be learned

Thursday, 25th September, 2008

Lessons to be learned Lessons to be learned

A former bank robber has been helping about 20 local jobseekers this week in a program designed to find them work.

The 'Fast Forward' program was organised by Sureway Employment and Training and run by motivational speaker Graeme Alford, upon whose life the program is based.

It is designed to help job seekers rejoin the work force and progress up the work/life ladder by identifying and removing mental roadblocks and increasing self-confidence.

Sureway Area Manager Dean Clarke said that guest speakers from local industry also discussed what they look for in employees and the work opportunities availabe.

"Our aim is to provide longer term job seekers with a new start towards finding a job," he said.

"The program has been very successful elsewhere and we are trying to replicate that success here."

Mr Alford was a successful barrister before alcohol and gambling addiction led him into debt and eventually to committing armed robbery.

He was jailed in Melbourne's notorious Pentridge Prison for the crime and lost everything - his career, wife, friends, money and, for a while, his children.

It was in jail though that Graeme re-invented himself, slimming down from 120kgs, kicking his alcohol dependency and getting his life back together.

After being released, he developed the Fast Forward program with the help of a psychologist and it has since been presented all over Australia. 

"It's designed to give people motivation and to show them that they have transitional skills," he said.

Mr Alford said for example that a mother who had been home raising children had skills which were very applicable to the work force and people in their 50s and 60s had an advantage in some jobs.

"It's getting them to see what their opportunities are," he said. "Encouraging them to think outside the square."

Mr Alford said he also advised people to be more open to the types of jobs they're looking for.

He said, for example, if you want to work as a hotel chef you might have to start out washing dishes or serving at the bar.

The program also covers interview skills and ways people can make themselves stand out from other applicants.

"We get them to understand how to put themselves in front of an employer better," he said.

Mr Alford said it was important for people to remember that an interview wasn't evaluating them as a person, but as the most suitable candidate for that job. 

"If you don't get the job it doesn't mean you're a bad person - there was just somebody more suitable," he said.

Mr Alford was very confident about the future of the local participants.

"I expect about five or six of them to be working in eight weeks," he said. Heather Craker said it had been a valuable experience and one she would recommend to others.

"It's a great program," she said. "Graeme is really open and positive and the enivronment is very comfortable."

"If anyone ever gets the chance to do something like this with Graeme, or read his book, they should. If you have any apprehension about job interviews or are lacking in confidence he's the man to help."

Mr Alford's book is called "Never Give Up".

The Fast Forward program was arranged in association with the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations.

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