He hasn't quite finished school yet, but St Stanslaus' College Year 12 student Caden Taylor is already kicking goals on his path into the workforce.
Caden's efforts were recognised at the recent NSW Training Awards, where he was named the School-Based Apprentice/Trainee [SBAT] of the Year for Western NSW.
Recognised for his ongoing retail traineeship at Intersport Bathurst, which he started in late 2020, Caden said he was "over the moon" to receive the award.
"It's something I've worked hard on with Mr McDonald [Stannies' careers advisor Paul McDonald] to achieve, so I'm very thankful to have been recognised," he said.
"The decision to learn more about retail at Intersport was easy for me, as I've played rugby for 13 years and I've been eager to learn more about sports products."
Caden's roles have included providing advice on stock, refilling and transferring stock and general cleaning duties.
He said the experience has taught him the finer points of good customer service and communication.
"A lot of people my age struggle to communicate with others, and this job has helped me mature a bit and learn how to talk to a wide range of people," he said.
"I've loved every second of it, and this experience has enabled me to secure a carpentry apprenticeship next year.
"While it's not retail, there's no doubt the skills and qualities I've gained through working at Intersport helped me gain the apprenticeship."
Intersport Bathurst owner Shane Cantrill, who has also coached Caden on the rugby field, said the business has enjoyed having Caden on board.
"Caden started as a casual, and his dedication to the job has been really good for the business," Mr Cantrill said.
"He's the type of kid who's willing to learn, ask questions and have a crack at different jobs off his own bat, which are ideal values for any employee to live up to.
"It can sometimes be a bit daunting for a student to discuss products, especially footwear, with the wider community, but Caden has taken all the challenges in his stride. He's a star pupil."
Mr McDonald said 2022 is the second year Stannies has run the SBAT program at the school, and has proven popular among students looking to gain ideal work experience while completing their Higher School Certificate [HSC].
"We've got 13 students involved already, and have another five students in Year 10 who are lining up to take part in the program next year," he said.
"To have Caden pull off an award like this in only the second year we've run this program is a fine achievement, and it highlights the value of SBATs in getting HSC students work-ready."
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