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Key factors in supporting apprentices’ skills, health and wellbeing

03-Aug-2016

GTA welcomes an important new research report identifying critical factors in supporting apprentices and improving their completion rates.

The report, Beyond mentoring: social support structures for young Australian carpentry apprentices, examines best practice across leading firms, including group training organisations, which achieve apprentice completion rates at around 90%, well above the industry average.

The findings demonstrate the importance of both formal and informal support structures for apprentices to maximise workplace learning and facilitate full and rounded participation in the trade.

Published by the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER), the report was prepared by John Buchanan, Catherine Raffaele, Nick Glozier and Aran Kanagaratnam from the University of Sydney.

The findings have been generated from eight case studies, including leading construction firms and four group training organisations in NSW, Queensland, Western Australia and Tasmania.

The Chair of Group Training Australia (GTA) Mr Stuart Diepeveen said the report makes an important contribution to the discussion on ways to better integrate apprentices into the workplace and improve completion rates.

“This report provides a very useful guide to all employers, not only about the best approach to quality skills development, but also about contributing to the health and wellbeing of apprentices,” he said.

“One of the longstanding features of the group training model of apprentice employment has been to ensure that apprentices and trainees are provided extensive support and mentoring throughout their journey to a completed qualification.”

As the report notes: “Group training is well known for providing what is often described as ‘pastoral care’ for its apprentices. This ethos was strong in all four group training organisations studied. At the heart of this was the role of the field officer.”

The report says that the mentoring and support provided by group training organisations includes career-directed and psychosocial support, but is often broader and includes assistance in developing competencies and completing assignments, as well as guidance in workplace conduct and behaviour.

The report highlights the value of a strong trade culture in the workplace where support for new apprentices comes not just from seasoned members of the trade, but also from later year apprentices.

NCVER has prepared a good practice guide, to help employers provide work-based social support structures that contribute to the wellbeing of young apprentices.