CEO Editorial | Australia needs more apprentices.

There were 268,600 apprentices and trainees in-training in 2017, according to the 2018 Australian Jobs report. This number has almost halved over the past five years, limiting the potential new supply of skilled workers. This is especially worrisome for the technicians and trades workers as apprenticeships and traineeships are the main pathways for entry into a career in these industries.

And yet, we will almost always need the skill sets of people from technicians and trades backgrounds with population booming and the infrastructure required to support it. Not only that, apprenticeships and traineeships are available for more than 500 occupations, including many non-trade.

So why aren’t more people looking at apprenticeships and traineeships as pathways into a career?

Maybe it is a case that it takes time for wage growth or is it fear of changing careers jumping into the unknown? 

Or is it employers not seeing the numerous benefits of offering these entry positions? Training a person from day one to your requirements and needs means that you are future-proofing your workforce. They have learnt your processes and procedures, they have aligned themselves with your culture and values and this in turn breeds loyalty. Studies show that apprentices trained in-house stay with a company much longer than skilled employees hired for a particular role.

So how do we set ourselves up for success when it comes to encouraging more people to consider apprenticeships and traineeships?

At Programmed, I am fortunate to hear about the success stories of our apprentices and trainees on a daily basis. From being recognised with national training awards to being acknowledged by their host employers for speaking out about a safety hazard or for finding a better, safer way to complete a task.

I believe this success has been achieved through our emphasis on building outstanding people, strong customers and great communities.

Our training programs set up our people for success, providing them the opportunity to gain qualifications while getting paid and on-the-job experience. This can make all the difference to people who previously haven’t known where to go to kick-start their careers.

Take for instance, Kimberly Brewster who recently won Trainee of the Year at the Australian Training Awards and is currently completing a Certificate IV in Business Administration with ConocoPhillips. Young mum to two children, Kimberly wanted to find a way to advance her career and support her young family. After stints in retail and hospitality, she found our traineeship ad in her local NT paper and has since gone from strength to strength with ConocoPhillips.

We partner with our customers to create training programs that provide the development and crucial support to enable our apprentices and trainees to thrive.

This collaboration is at the heart of our National Energy Technician Training Scheme (NETTS), which is delivering a future-ready workforce for the oil and gas industry. Industry leaders – Shell, Woodside, Santos, INPEX and Vermillion – collaborating,sharing their resources and experience, to create a successful and standardised training program. This program is achieving fantastic results including a 98% completion rate for our apprentices which is well above the national average. It is making great strides in making the next generation of the oil and gas industry more representative of the communities in which it operates, with 42%female and 29% Indigenous participation.

Caleb McDonald, winner of the Indigenous Apprentice of the Year at the Apprentice Employment Network Western Australia (AENWA) 2018 Awards of Excellence, credits the NETTS program for helping him to build a strong foundation on which to grow in his career and become a spokesperson for his community.

‘Access to these senior people within the industry inspires me to strive to become the best at what I do, aiming to be a team leader and eventually an Onshore/Offshore Installation Manager.’

Because of our footprint, we are offering local people local opportunities so that they can stay within their communities, which is especially important for young people in rural locations.

Kathleen Jones took on a traineeship as an Installer Repairer with Telstra in North Queensland and was a finalist for Trainee of the Year at the Australian Training Awards. Kathleen’s goal is to build her skills in transmission and radio systems to better serve her community because Telstra technicians currently have to travel to her area when repairs are needed.

Over the past year, we supported over 1,100 apprentices and trainees as they start their new careers in their chosen fields. Each have been supported by Programmed Field Officers working closely with them to make sure they are on track to achieve their goals and staying safe while on site.

We will grow this number in the next year to provide Australia’s industries with engaged, safe and productive employees who are workforce ready and also ready to serve our growing communities.

Are you ready for the future?

Nic Fairbank

CEO, Programmed Skilled Workforce

PROGRAMMED – building outstanding people, strong customers and great communities.


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About Programmed


Programmed is a leading provider of operations and maintenance services across Australia and New Zealand. Our business model is built around our ability to recruit, deploy, manage and maintain a large, directly employed workforce of professional, skilled and semi-skilled staff with a wide range of capabilities. We are proud to efficiently serve more than 10,000 customers every day.

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