A new community café in Melbourne’s South East is building employment pathways, and community connections.
Run by students, and serving fresh, healthy food and hot drinks, Café 263 at Carrum Downs Secondary College opened to the local community with great fanfare in September 2017.
The café is the culmination of six years of hard work by school staff, and the generosity of community partners who provided funding to fit out and equip a purpose-built facility for students to undertake skills training and get on-the-job hospitality experience.
Students have been working in the café learning food preparation, coffee making and customer service while they complete VCAL and VET qualifications in hospitality and food handling.
For the College’s Business Manager Bev Boys, the café offers more than a pathway to a qualification by helping students gain valuable life skills so that when they are ready to leave school and go out to work they have “great work experience under their belts”.
Hospitality is a growing industry and offers an increasingly attractive career choice for young people interested in coffee, foodie culture, social jobs and small business ownership.
The café is also helping students gain confidence and experience in a workplace setting, filling a gap that exists in the south east where school leavers struggle to follow pathways to employment.
For student Gabbi, the experience she gains will help launch her into the hospitality industry after leaving school, where she hopes to get work in a café working behind the coffee machine and interacting with customers. It’s also a life long skill she hopes to be able to also pick up later in life if she needs it.
Year 12 student Tyler has already gained a food preparation qualification and moved onto a Certificate 2 in Hospitality after “Falling in love with the hospitality industry … training to work in the café has boosted my skills and confidence by talking with people.”
The café is already attracting the interest of locals. In the weeks before the official opening they have welcomed the local crossing guard who popped in for a cuppa, and a local mothers group has visited to enjoy the ample play space and kid friendly meal options.
Fellow students have grabbed coffee at the café’s takeaway window before school and parents have also taken advantage of the convenient location to relax after the frenzy of morning school drop offs.
Asked if she felt daunted by learning coffee making, Gabbi said “It wasn’t easy to learn but it depends how fast you pick things up.” The students helped each other learn to use the machine and she admits that lots of test coffees were drunk along the way!
Principal Mark Gow is excited to see the café come to fruition after six years of planning. For Mark the café is “not just about coffee and cake” and offers an important opportunity to connect with the busy parents of secondary school students.
In future the College hopes to use the café space to host one-on-one meetings with parents, and run after school learning courses around technology, reading and maths to help parents support their children in their studies.
You can visit Cafe 263 at McCormicks Rd, Carrum Downs, during school term, Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 2pm.
Bank Australia is proud to be supporting Café 263 through our Impact Fund customer grants program. As part of our commitment to responsible banking, we invest 4% of our after-tax profits in initiatives that benefit people and the planet.
Photo credit: Bank Australia
Caption: Café 263 staff (L-R) Casey, Jacinta, Gabbi, Daniella, teacher Lisa Floyd, Alannah, Caley, Ebony and Tyler.