Flaws and all
Phones and social media: Entrenched mobile phone habits by young people has become a real workforce problem. Frequent use during work hours results in employer angst due to loss of productivity, loss of concentration, and in some instances, causing safety risks to the apprentice and their colleagues.
Drugs and alcohol: Mentoring conversations highlighted the popularity of recreational drug taking, including hard drugs, with many apprentices disinterested in seeking help and advice.
Pay and conditions: More than 1800 apprentices raised pay and work condition issues. The prevalence of underpayment, not being issued with payslips, non-payment of superannuation contributions, not being reimbursed for RTO/TAFE fees, and non-payment of travel and/or overtime, is most concerning, and an extremely disappointing reflection on a portion of the building industry. (It should be noted that HIA Apprentices meet all employment requirements. All pay issues reported related to directly indentured employers.)
Unsafe work environments: Many apprentices also revealed being exposed to unsafe work sites. Issues included working from heights, untagged electrical equipment, lack of supervision and unsafe equipment.
Bullying and harassment: One of the pressing issues revealed by apprentices related to workplace bullying and harassment. The pressure exerted upon many young workers was often unreasonable and caused immense stress, with many disinclined to take a stance on bullying for fear of losing their jobs.
TAFE/RTO attendance: There were also serious reports of many instances where employers did not allow their apprentices to attend their TAFE or RTO to undertake their studies, putting them at risk of falling behind in their learning.
Financial stress: Due to the apprentice wage structure and the cost of living in certain locations, many young people are under financial stress. They often have low levels of financial management capability as well. The need for financial and budgeting advice was common, and well received.
Nutrition and health: Due to early starts many apprentices skip breakfast, and rely on fast food/caffeine/sugar-based diets, suffer from exhaustion, have poor sleep or lack exercise. The need for better health and wellbeing education was apparent.
Mental health: Significant numbers of apprentices revealed mental health issues. Many struggle to cope with their job and other life pressures. A sad result in some cases was suicide. HIA mentors also acted as a confidante, connected apprentices with professional support and assisted in managing the impact of a suicide in apprentice’s personal networks.
HIA supports and has a close working relationship with Beyond Blue.