scott cam hero

Master of apprentices: How Scott Cam is helping to build Australia’s future

While you may know him as the no nonsense media personality keeping reality renovators in check, what is less known is that Scott Cam has put in the building hard yards on the tools, which makes him the perfect person to fill Australia’s National Careers Ambassador role.

Photo credit: Dominic Loneragan. @dominicloneragan. dominic@dlphotography.com.au

Author

Anne-Maree Brown

Known for his personable and candid but sometimes unapologetically resolute style, Scott started out many years ago like a lot of 18-year-olds at the time. He wanted to find a career that he could throw himself into, feel the satisfaction of a hard day’s work and end it off with a cold beer with mates. 

‘When I was at school, trade careers were promoted by teachers and principals,’ Scott says. ‘I wasn’t really into writing a great English essay but by working with my hands, carpentry trade sounded perfect for me.’ 

Following in his brother’s footsteps he became an apprentice carpenter, and used his natural dexterity and growing skill set to travel around Australia, working hard, making friends and gathering experiences along the way. The rest, as they say is history. 

 
sc2 Photo credit: Dominic Loneragan. @dominicloneragan. dominic@dlphotography.com.au

Now many years later Scott Cam has a new job. Yes, there has been a lot of chatter about him becoming Australia’s National Careers Ambassador, but this one is a lot closer to home. That’s because he has a new family member, Frankie, an adorable Kelpie with curiously pointed bat-ears, just a little too tall for her petite puppy face, and an eagerness to be kept in check. 

Scott considers himself a great ‘dogmaster’, finding that perfect balance between tough behavioural training, guidance and patience, with plenty of kindness. In many ways his natural leadership has propelled him throughout his career, from working as a chippy running his own business to landing television presenter roles on various reality renovation shows over the past twenty years.

 

What a lot of people may not realise is that Scott took the step to business owner a few years later, hiring his own apprentices and sweating on doing a great day’s work, balancing the books, mentoring and making sure each Friday everyone got paid. By then he had a wife, a growing family and young workers under his wing looking to him for skill building and guidance. A tonne more pressure than the tiffs, trials and tears of reality television his later years would bring.

It’s no surprise then that with all of this experience, passion and knowledge in hand Scott has spent the better half of the past seven years providing advice on the future of Australian apprentices and training, along with his work with the Housing Industry Association (HIA). This has now culminated in the newly appointed role as the National Careers Ambassador for the National Careers Institute.

‘In the three decades since I graduated from being an apprentice, the world of work has changed and opened up new opportunities for people, but it can be confusing,’ he says. ‘Just as importantly we need to ensure we have workers available in the right areas where we need them in this country.’

While our education system currently has a strong focus on school leavers transitioning straight into university, there are a variety of other pathways in trades and vocational training young people can take to pursue a career. But the information on all the options is scattered and there is little insight into where training can ultimately lead.

Demystifying career options and providing a one-stop-shop on pathways is the aim of the newly established National Careers Institute. Working with as many parties as possible, including the building industry, educator sector and government, along with school leavers, Scott’s role will be one involving communication and advice, starting the conversation and keeping it going.

‘I’m very passionate about apprenticeships and young people. We need to future-proof a lot of industries, starting with opening kids up to the real opportunity trades give,’ Scott explains.

‘It’s not just young kids either, it is also about [helping] mature age students wanting a career change, and the possibilities are endless. We need to keep everyone informed, easily.’

 

scott cam
Scott Cam and Frankie
Photo credit: Dominic Loneragan. @dominicloneragan. dominic@dlphotography.com.au
Scott Cam, Glen Simpkin, Simon Norris
Simon Norris (right) with HIA Ambassador Scott Cam (left) and Glenn Simpkin, Holcim at the HIA 2019 National Conference.

The building industry is, of course, the one closest to Scott’s heart: ‘If we don’t work now on tomorrow’s tradespeople being available, we will fall way short as a country economically. We need cranes in the sky, and workers building homes to secure our future.’ 

Scott believes there are numerous benefits to be gained from pursuing a skilled trade as a career pathway.

‘We need to spread the word that with a career in a trade you can make a quid, keep fit, not to mention the fact that today’s first-year apprentice could be running his own business in four or five years’ time,’ he says. ‘That’s pretty powerful.’

Drawing on his own personal account as an apprentice host and mentor, there was so much more to the task than just teaching the right skills in Scott’s eyes. 

‘I’ve had 5 apprentices and I always felt my role was a moral one. Sure, I would give them work skills, but I would also give them guidance about living their life,’ he says. ‘I took it very seriously. It was about showing them the way to conduct yourself in public, amongst peers, clients, [and maintaining a strong] work ethic.

‘My apprentices would turn up at my home, see me with my wife and my kids, and get a sense of who I am, as a boss but also as a person ‘I wanted to be part of making young people, great adults.’

Specifically on the subject of young workers, Scott believes they get a bad rap. ‘In my experience laziness is just bad training,’ he says. ‘I was there with my apprentices for the long run, some for as long as 12 years. If all I did in the first six months was get mad and rouse on them, then they wouldn’t work hard for me. I needed to have faith in them and have them trust me.’

It obviously worked, as in the years following he has proudly been present at his apprentices’ twenty-first birthdays, then their engagements, weddings and now onto christenings and kids’ birthday parties. 

‘My first apprentice now has three kids, is an amazing team leader, husband and father,’ Scott says, adding they still catch up for beers and backyard barbeques whenever they can.

As for now, he has a busy year ahead of him, balancing his media commitments, his work for the National Careers Institute, continuing his role as the HIA Ambassador and of course, turning Frankie into the perfect pet and working dog ally. 

 

For more information on becoming an apprentice, or an apprentice host, you can reach out to the Housing Industry Association (HIA) at www.hia.com.au/products-services/apprentices


 
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