Tricks of the trades: shoulder to the wheel for highly-qualified apprentices

FIVE young Orange people will soon hold qualification in dual trades under a partnership between the Australian Business Apprenticeships Centre (ABAC) and Whittaker Contracting located in the industrial estate in north Orange.

Among the five are mechanics Peter Maher and Jamie Marshall, whose dual qualifications have set them up for the future, making them highly sought-after tradesmen.

Their achievements come at the same time latest statistics reveal less than half of Australian apprentices complete their training, citing low wages and long hours.

However for Mr Maher an apprenticeship was his goal at school where he completed Year 12.

“I just didn’t want to go to university,” he said.

While he acknowledges apprenticeship wages may be deemed low by some standards, he relished the opportunities it would provide.

“While you’re an apprentice you are being paid while you are learning - that doesn’t happen at university,” he said.

Three of Whittaker Contracting apprentices Scott Taylor, Wade Robinson and Mr Marshall are training in the auto electrical field, after qualifying in vehicle mechanics, while another two  apprentices Mr Maher and James Wolters are working now to complete a road transport conversion course.

Regional manager for ABAC Peter Rickard says in times of high youth unemployment undertaking a second qualification is any excellent way for people to enhance their employment options.

Area consultant for ABAC Chris Riekson, who worked with Whittaker Contracting to ensure the company had completed all the appropriate paperwork for apprenticeships, said some employers in the community considering hiring apprentices may not be aware of the support they can receive from ABAC.

“Employers could be eligible for government incentives when employing apprentices - even for a second trade,” she said.

Mr Marshall initially became interested in pursuing a trade during his final two years of schooling.

“Then I was able to start on an elective through TAFE,” he said.

Ms Rieksen said she urges businesses in Orange to increase their skills base and consider taking on apprentices or trainees which will offer a way for staff to be trained in a way that is tailored to a particular business.

“Many of the incentives currently being offered are specifically targeting industries on the national skills needs list, particularly in rural and regional areas and this is supplemented with support for apprentices themselves who meet certain criteria,” she said.

janice.harris@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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