Councils Continue Apprentice Tradition

A Lake Macquarie City Council training program addressing Australia’s skills shortage crisis will be expanded, after four years of success.

Pictured ~ Rachael Neale is a former Merewether High School student who successfully applied for a traineeship in fleet management

More than 50 apprentices, trainees and cadets have completed the Education to Employment (E2E) program since its introduction in 2014, with only three participants dropping out prior to graduation.

Workforce Planning Coordinator Carlie McQuillan said positions ranged from apprentice motor mechanics and horticulturists to traineeships in the City’s libraries, art gallery and tourism teams.

Programs such as E2E directly address the national skills shortage, keep skills and jobs in our local community and bring fresh young talent to our organisation,” Ms McQuillan said.

The range of services we deliver in Lake Mac means we can offer a diversity of opportunities that few other organisations could match.”

In its first 12 months, Council’s E2E program included five participants.

That number has now grown to 43, with another 13 to be recruited in coming weeks.

“As part of this recruitment, we will offer our first traineeship position specifically targeting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participants,” Ms McQuillan said.

“Further positions will also be offered throughout 2019 as current apprentices and trainees graduate.”

Trainee Events Officer Jared Thompson was four months into a medical science degree at the University of Technology Sydney when he saw the E2E program advertised in late 2017.

The opportunity presented itself and I was in a bit of a transitional period, seeking new opportunities,” Mr Thompson, 20, said.

It was a risk doing something so far outside my comfort zone but I ran with it.”

Mr Thompson has since been instrumental in organising some of the City’s showcase events, including the Living Smart Festival, Lake Mac Carols and the upcoming Lake Mac Festival on Australia Day.

He also played a role in the openings last year of the new Charlestown skate park and Pasterfield Sports Complex at Cameron Park.

Working with E2E has given me insight into a lot of career possibilities,” Mr Thompson said.

Ms McQuillan said the steep increase in E2E participation numbers reflected both the success of the program and growing demand.

We regularly have a substantial number of high-calibre applicants – often well over 100 for customer service or trade apprenticeships,” Ms McQuillan said.

That means we are able to employ the cream of the crop in those roles.”

In January, 2017, that included Rachael Neale – a former Merewether High School student who successfully applied for a traineeship in fleet management, including a Certificate IV in Business and a Certificate in Fleet Management.

Fast forward two years, and the 21-year-old has completed the qualifications and landed a full-time job as one of Council’s Plant and Fleet Officers, which involves coordinating a fleet of trucks and plant worth millions of dollars.

It’s a very diverse role – you’re never really doing the same thing twice,” Ms Neale said.

Learning on the job and getting hands-on experience has been great, so my advice to new trainees and apprentices would be to just go for it.”

Diesel mechanic Max Compton is another recent graduate.

The 21-year-old former All Saints’ College, Maitland, student worked on everything from chainsaws to giant excavators throughout his apprenticeship.

Mr Compton cited job flexibility, work environment and variety of work among the main benefits of working for Council.

Having that nine-day fortnight and getting time off when I need it has been really good,” Mr Compton said.