How to attract apprentices... and keep them
PHOEBE Lindburg remembers the day like it was yesterday.
A mechanic had come to the aid of an incapacitated truck she’d been driving, and after watching him work she knew in an instant that was where her career aspirations lay.
The only problem was, it took the then 18-year-old another seven years to find an employer willing to embrace that passion for engines.
On two occasions she was offered work, but on principle Lindburg declined: both employers insisted she sign a clause precluding her from taking maternity leave.
Regrettably, the dedicated third-year diesel mechanic apprentice told delegates at the ATA’s technology and maintenance conference in Melbourne, the landscape isn’t any rosier for new recruits today.
In researching her presentation, the 2017 Cummins South Pacific apprentice scholarship winner revealed more than 9000 automotive and engineering apprentices withdraw from their courses each year.
Lindburg said the alarming dropout rates could be attributed to three key categories: environment, wage and government incentives (or lack thereof ).
“During my first year at TAFE more than 60 per cent of the students in my class were sweeping floors, picking up parts and cleaning the workshop,” Lindburg said.
She said apprentices also became disheartened because of bullying and called for companies to promote anti-bullying campaigns to protect not only their apprentices, but everyone in the workplace.
“It is not enough to simply think that apprentices should experience the ‘tough life’ of working in the industry through condescending or discriminatory remarks.”
Lindburg said the industry also needs to look at ways to provide better government incentives to apprentices which are not loan-based, and to also ensure better pay. According to the Fair Work Ombudsman, she said one in three companies are not paying their apprentices enough.
But above all, Lindburg believed the most important form of support for an apprentice comes from a mentor to guide, teach and encourage.
“We need to lead by example and create industries which not only cater to apprentices, but promote their growth, skills and capabilities. In doing this, everyone succeeds.”
DRIVING CHANGE: Apprentice Phoebe Lindburg said it’s time the industry changed its attitude.