Apprentices today face numerous challenges that affect their ability to get qualified. Many young people struggle with the transition from school to the professional workplace, and the pressures of their new work life – plus the varying conditions they find themselves in – are often compounded by events happening in their personal lives. Statistics show that more than 50 per cent drop out of their training in their first two years – a circumstance that will invariably impact on our trade numbers in years to come.
Recognising this alarming statistic, the Australian Government funded a two-year national mentoring program to address the issue, covering all trades who undertake apprenticeship and trainee training. The Industry Specialist Mentoring of Australian Apprentices (ISMAA) Program is designed to specifically target and support first- and second-year apprentices, with HIA selected as one of the specialist providers.
With the challenging objective to mentor more than 3000 apprentices over the contract period, HIA employed and placed 14 mentors at TAFE campuses across several Australian states. The mentors’ aim is to engage with apprentices, and provide them with tailored advice and support while they attend campus for training. HIA mentors sit down with apprentices one-on-one to help them resolve any problems or issues they are facing, both on the job and in their personal lives.
To advance the discussions, HIA mentors introduced a list of 40 conversation subjects, ranging from health and wellbeing to communication skills, skill development and career pathways. At the first face-to-face meeting the apprentices were asked to choose the subjects they had a particular interest in so this could be discussed in more depth at the next meeting.
It is interesting to note that as the mentor slowly built a rapport with their apprentices some of the discussion topics expanded into more deep and meaningful dialogues, helping to expose the genuine concerns these young adults have at the beginning of their working lives.