What do you do when your employer, who is also your registered training provider, closes their doors while your apprenticeship is still underway?
Well this was the predicament that 21 Perth based apprentices found themselves in in late 2018. Add to that the fact that 14 of those 21 were well behind in terms of their off the job training and at risk of not completing their apprenticeships by the programmed end date and you have a group who were understandably very concerned about their future employment and achieving their trade certificates. One fourth year carpentry apprentice had only been scheduled for and completed 5 units out of 32 with only 6 months until he was due to complete his apprenticeship.
Then in stepped Directions Workforce Solutions. Directions Workforce Solutions takes its commitment to being the group training scheme that does things differently and putting people first very seriously.
“If we hadn’t stepped in we knew there was a very good chance that these apprentices would not have been in a position to get the trade certificates they worked so hard towards” said Directions CEO Ian Eardley
“As a small charity that is committed to building skills, that certainly isn’t what our organisation is about and we couldn’t just stand back and do nothing.”
Directions immediately began working with stakeholders including the apprentices’ host employers, the WA Department of Training and Workforce Development (DTWD), both South and North Metropolitan TAFE to get these apprentices back on track and able to complete their apprenticeships as close to the standard timeframes as possible.
Engagement with the host employers was focussed on minimising any interruption to the workplaces and keeping them informed while Direction worked behind the scenes to get the apprentices back on track.
South and North Metro TAFES, with North metro picking up most of the heavy lifting were very flexible about working with us to schedule the necessary training so these apprentices could finish their programs as close to the scheduled completion date as possible and DTWD were very helpful in waiving the training fees due to the special circumstances.
Through our contracted Industry Specialist Mentoring for Australian Apprentices (ISMAA) program, which focusses specifically on the construction industry and the extra guidance sometimes needed by apprentices and trainees due to structural change in the industry, we were also able to provide the apprentices with additional crisis mentoring and career support during the transition phase.
Directions took on a significant financial commitment with the apprentice group too as there was no income to cover the many weeks of wages for these apprentices while they were catching up on their training plans. Effectively the whole annual surplus from the previous financial year was expended on seeing to it that these apprentices had the opportunity to complete their apprenticeships.
Directions are also working with Construction Training Fund to establish if there is any assistance they can provide in regard to recouping some of the costs incurred by Directions.
“Doing what we are doing would not have been possible if it was not for the commitment of the dedicated Direction staff and the full support of the Directions Board who are committed to increasing the apprentice numbers and consequently the number of appropriately skilled tradespeople in WA” Ian added.