For the apprentice, the job is not just about undertaking training that will mean a wage and a start in a construction career. The more I learn about how good employers train and mentor, the more I realise that it is so much more: a quality ‘learning based’ apprenticeship serves a very important role in building self-worth and a strong character, which will have a huge impact on what happens to that individual in their future.
At ABBTF, we hang our hats on the phrase ‘My Future Freedom’ in promoting bricklaying because we believe that for the right person it can be everything you want out of life. However, I do concede that top-notch training and the life opportunities provided by the employer and the rest of the team are vitally important in shaping the apprentice’s future.
It can start with the purpose that an apprenticeship can put into a life – the incentive to turn up, on-time each day to fulfil a responsibility to mates and the team on the job. Reliance on each other is learned quickly – if genuine respect and care is shown. It’s also about the quality of training, mentoring and skills that all team members invest in the apprentice. By their actions an appreciation is built for the time invested and as a result it makes the trainee more likely to do the same for others, on and off the job.
Most bosses are very understanding of problems apprentices might have – they’ve been there before – so a lot can be shared on site, helping the young apprentice deal with work, home, relationship issues and so on. Imagine being in a job where no-one cared about your development and welfare? It’s a hard road on your own and not surprising that some young ones don’t last on the job. Most employers are good mentors, recognise youthful quirks and meet their responsibilities of the joint apprenticeship arrangement they’ve entered into. ABBTF Resources can help.
Quality training and mentoring means completion rates as high as 90 per cent.
Recently, the Sydney Morning Herald, NSW, carried a story titled ‘Apprenticeships can improve mental health’. It reported on a local study which showed how effective quality training and mentoring can be to boost apprenticeship completion rates – which are about 50% in bricklaying and many other trades.
Study leader Professor John Buchanan said companies that provide quality training and mentoring have completion rates as high as 90 per cent.
The study from the NCVER, Beyond mentoring: social support structures for young Australian carpentry apprentices looked at the best apprenticeship training schemes in the Australian carpentry trade and found work-based mentoring and social support could help prevent mental health problems, or detect them early. The study included small businesses and larger companies including Hutchinson Builders, Fairbrother Pty Ltd, Barangaroo Skills Exchange and East Coast Apprenticeships.
The research found that quality apprenticeships were not something that could be simply “added on” as a separate program. Quality on-the-job learning and informal and peer-based mentoring was found to be more effective.
“An effective social structure support isn’t something you bolt onto the side of something,” Professor Buchanan said. “When you look at the apprenticeship system the things that really provide the support are not the arrangements that are funded by the Commonwealth Government. It is the quality of the day-in-day-out arrangements that merge skill development and personal development.
“When people turned up on the job people took notice of them and respected them and listened to their requests for help, offered insights in how to become more competent on the job and if problems emerged, helped them solve them. They felt safe to ask for guidance.”