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Toyota Cowboys hooker Ray Thompson received even more attention than usual over lunch at 1300SMILES Stadium today.

Thompson was given the royal treatment when he was waited on by 22 Indigenous hospitality students as part of their assessment for the Certificate III in Hospitality they are undertaking under the Cowboys’ Learn to Earn program.

The hospitality training course – the third Learn to Earn training course to be delivered by the Cowboys – is being conducted with the support of Stadiums Queensland and Spotless who have assisted by providing the training venue and hospitality facilities respectively.

Other successful Learn to Earn programs have provided training and employment in the warehouse and rural industries.

“Getting the right qualifications for the job or industry you want to work in is so important,” Thompson, a qualified plumber, said.

“Back that up with some experience and enthusiasm, and employers really take notice.

“It’s great that the Cowboys have the opportunity to work in partnership with the Australian Government in encouraging and supporting Indigenous Australians to skill up and get into work with a career future.”  

According to North Queensland Cowboys community relations manager Fiona Pelling, the Learn to Earn program is about getting unemployed people engaged, learning skills and gaining qualifications that are in demand by local employers.

“We recruit participants into the program, provide Certificate III level training and work experience and then work in partnership with our community network to assist them in obtaining paid employment,” Ms Pelling said.

“Throughout the program our Indigenous mentor provides personal mentoring and support to make sure the students remain motivated and on-track.

“We’re looking good for a 100% graduation rate for the course and local employers have been really supportive in providing work experience places. 

“Mercure Townsville, Cowboys Leagues Club, and the Holiday Inn have been very supportive, providing work experience places for 16 of the students and a number of employers have already expressed interest in providing ongoing employment for program graduates.”