KOMBA Madua came to Australia from war-ravaged Sierra Leone having experienced horrors he cannot speak of.
During the country's decade-long civil war, up to 10,000 children were forced to fight as soldiers.
Both Mr Madua and his twin brother suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder when they were given asylum in Australia in 2008.
For the past 12 months the 19-year-old has worked as a first-year apprentice mechanic at Grand Motors in Parramatta and supported both himself and his brother on the meagre wage.
"It's really exciting," the Rosehill resident said of his job.
"I want to be like my boss, the workshop manager, he knows everything about the cars."
The company employs other people who have struggled to find work elsewhere.
Amelia Bout, 22, bounced from workshop to workshop unable to find somewhere she felt comfortable, until she was placed by non-profit organisation Apprenticeships Plus at Grand Motors.
Robert Taylor, 19, had similar problems holding a job because of a behaviour problem.
All three have benefited from government funding that subsidises the cost of training them.
Freddy Agha, the operations manager at the car dealership, said without the subsidy, the apprentices could not afford TAFE fees, uniforms or safety equipment.
As part of the state's $1.7 billion cut to the education budget, the state government will slash $1.7 million that 37 companies use to help people like Mr Madua and his colleagues.
Michael Wentworth, the general manager of Apprenticeships Plus, said the funding cut would hurt already disadvantaged people.
"It's not funding for some fat bureaucrat sitting in an ivory tower," he said.
"These are full-time jobs."