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Candidate kicks goals for training opportunity

Gareth ThomasAlbany Advertiser

Liberal candidate for Albany Greg Stocks has dedicated much of his life to providing young people with education and workplace opportunities and this passion for education has led him to take a tilt at State politics.

Mr Stocks moved to Albany with his family in the late 1960s from Collie, where his father was a coal miner.

At that time, Albany was a hub of primary production and secondary processing industries and Mr Stocks’ parents worked at the whaling station, the woollen mills and the fish and vegetable factories.

Mr Stocks attended Albany Senior High School, returning to teach for 17 years before becoming the chairman of the board for the transition to an independent public school.

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During his time at school, Mr Stocks was an accomplished sportsman, playing hockey and cricket, but it was football that became his passion and the sport he pursued at a higher level.

Once he left school, Mr Stocks moved to the big city for what he described in a self-deprecating manner as a “spectacularly unsuccessful attempt to become a league footballer” at Claremont.

That may be an overly humble assessment, however, as the 18-year-old Mr Stocks was the captain of the Claremont colts team playing alongside men who would become members of the inaugural West Coast Eagles team.

He said his time at Claremont taught him one the most valuable lessons he would ever learn.

“I didn’t apply myself at the time and I left an opportunity behind, with regrets,” he said.

“I was a young kid in the bright lights of the city, I probably had no chance, and in the end the opportunity slipped by, but as I reflected further on in life, in terms of career and business I learnt to never make that mistake again.”

After his football adventure at Claremont, Mr Stocks returned home to teach in Albany, where his passion for working to provide opportunities to disadvantaged students led to a secondment by the Department of Education to develop a workplace skills and learning curriculum.

“I spent three years seconded by the Education Department to draw up the framework for structured workplace learning in WA,” he said.

“I’m very proud of that, and that program has now gone Australia-wide.” Through working on the workplace skills and training curriculum, Mr Stocks identified a niche in the market, servicing youth and providing access to jobs and training.

Mr Stocks then started up the business Skill Hire with two other Albany businessmen, and grew the company to 18 offices in two States and one Territory.

“It’s grown into quite a big business, but the thing I’m most proud of is we started it in Albany and grew it from Albany,” he said.

“It’s a good example that you can do it with a lot of hard work and a bit of luck.”

While Mr Stocks is still a shareholder, he has stepped away from the business after 20 years to pursue other interests.

These days, Mr Stocks is deputy mayor of the City of Albany, and away from the office he likes to swim in the open ocean, having competed in five Rottnest swims over the years.

“Swimming is a bit kinder to the knees than football,” he said.

“Albany has been so great to me and my family and kids that I thought it was time to give something back.”

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