In­dus­try unites for re­cruit­ing

Big Rigs - - NEWS - Barry Reynolds

RATHER than sit around and com­plain about skill short­ages in Aus­tralia, Cum­mins South Pa­cific de­cided to go out into the com­mu­nity and do some­thing about it.

So suc­cess­ful were they in the first year that the com­pany was pre­sented with the na­tional Com­mu­nity Lead­er­ship Award at the re­cent Heavy Ve­hi­cle In­dus­try Aus­tralia din­ner in Bris­bane.

Kristina Lam­bkin, who has been with Cum­mins for five years as the ap­pren­tice pro­gram man­ager, is head of the com­pany’s Tech­ni­cal Ed­u­ca­tion for Com­mu­ni­ties, now about to see its first stu­dents grad­u­at­ing.

“The TEC model is some­thing that we do glob­ally,” Ms Lam­bkin said.

“Aus­tralia has a very well-es­tab­lished school­ing sys­tem and es­tab­lished ap­pren­tice sys­tem but we were still strug­gling to get good ap­pren­tices into our busi­ness and we do have a very sig­nif­i­cant skills short­age in our in­dus­try.”

Cum­mins takes about 50-80 ap­pren­tices each year and has about 200 work­ing in Aus­tralia and New Zealand.

It takes its vo­ca­tional ed­u­ca­tional pro­gram, TEC, into five sec­ondary schools around the coun­try – two in Western Aus­tralia, two in Queens­land and one in Vic­to­ria – all in ar­eas of high youth un­em­ploy­ment.

“We have jobs and we go to com­mu­ni­ties that need jobs to try to bridge that gap,” Ms Lam­bkin said.

The stu­dents, usu­ally 16 to 17-year-olds in Year 11, work to­wards a Cer­tifi­cate II in Au­to­mo­tive Vo­ca­tional Prepa­ra­tion and in con­di­tions that Cum­mins has brought up to in­dus­try­s­tan­dard work­shop lev­els.

“We also pro­vide ad­di­tional tech­ni­cal skills – ba­sic hand skills and en­gine iden­ti­fi­ca­tion,” Ms Lam­bkin said.

“Cum­mins do­nated en­gines to all of the schools we part­ner with. And we also send tech­ni­cians out to work with the kids in the work­shop on those en­gines. So it is a bit more of a real-world ex­pe­ri­ence.”

The pro­gram is not just school-based. Stu­dents are given the chance to have up to six weeks’ work ex­pe­ri­ence with Cum­mins and its in­dus­try part­ners as well as work­place tours “just to open their eyes to the op­tions that are avail­able”.

“We are try­ing to close that gap of an ap­pren­tice com­ing into a role and say­ing ‘Oh, this isn’t re­ally what I wanted’,” Ms Lam­bkin said.

“It gives them a real try-be­fore-you-buy op­tion.

“We en­cour­age them to fin­ish Year 12.

“We be­lieve that is a re­ally im­por­tant com­po­nent of the pro­gram. Th­ese pro­grams run in con­junc­tion with their nor­mal school­ing and we hope that it en­hances it.”

While Cum­mins is the driv­ing force be­hind the pro­gram, it brings to­gether oth­ers in the in­dus­try – even com­peti­tors.

“As an in­dus­try, we are all suf­fer­ing from the skill short­age at the mo­ment and we need to be proac­tive,” she said.

“We’re very driven by job out­comes, to get stu­dents through the pro­gram and into jobs in the in­dus­try.”

Among those who are par­tic­i­pat­ing in the pro­gram are Daim­ler Truck and Bus, AHG, Ko­matsu, Penske Power, PACCAR Dealer Net­work, Wes­trans, CJD Equip­ment, Bay­ford, Bri­erty, FDWA and Lind­say Trans­port.

“The pro­gram is still in its in­fancy and we will be hav­ing our first grad­u­a­tion this year,” Ms Lam­bkin said.

“We are com­mit­ted to the five sites at the mo­ment but we will be look­ing to ex­pand in the fu­ture.

“It is im­por­tant to re­alise that we are do­ing it for the com­mu­nity. It is not just a re­cruit­ment drive... it re­ally is about work­ing in those com­mu­ni­ties that need job out­comes but also job ed­u­ca­tion.

“Some of th­ese stu­dents may not come to work in our in­dus­try but we hope that by pro­vid­ing our life skills cur­ricu­lum that they will have life skills that will take them into any ca­reer jour­ney they want to go on.”

PHOTO: CON­TRIB­UTED

SUC­CESS STORY: Kristina Lam­bkin ac­cepts an award for com­mu­nity lead­er­ship at the HVIA din­ner in Bris­bane.

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