‘Maddy’s dream job delivers training, experience and security’ – NextGen Jobs

Like many school-leavers, Maddy Gallagher found herself wondering about a career after finishing Year 12.

Unsure of what she wanted to do but keen to enter the workforce, she picked up a factory job in Tullamarine. But it didn’t take her long to realise it wasn’t for her.

“It was Monday to Friday and I was just like: I can’t do this, I can’t be inside,” Maddy says. So she started applying for apprenticeships online.

She secured an apprenticeship with the Greater Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust in March, and Maddy has begun more fulfilling and satisfying work with her days spent outdoors cultivating soil, using the ride on mower and planting, among other tasks.

Maddy is happily working her way through a Certificate III in Parks and Gardens based at Altona Memorial Park, and it’s good, practical work with lots of variety. Importantly, it’s outdoors.

“I absolutely love it,” she says. “I think, if anything, I underestimated how good it was going to be. I thought I would struggle to fit in… but they took me in, and straight away, it was like I’d been there for ages. They were really welcoming.”

Maddy was supported through the  Victorian Apprenticeship Recovery Package, which places people aged 15 to 24 into fully-funded 12-month apprenticeships or traineeships with government departments, agencies, and local councils.

Backed by a $9 million investment from Jobs Victoria, the scheme placed its 300th apprentice in June.

Maddy says there is much to love about apprenticeships: You earn a qualification and invaluable on-the-job experience, and you are paid to learn.

“For people who don’t look at uni as something they want to do, I would definitely recommend an apprenticeship,” she says. “I feel like every job that you apply for now, all they want is experience. With an apprenticeship, you get the experience, but you also get the qualification.”

The Greater Melbourne Cemeteries Trust’s Horticultural Supervisor, Daniel Walkeden, said Maddy’s hard work, high standards and initiative contribute to her success as an apprentice.

“Apprenticeships are a really good leg-up to either get yourself qualified or just into a good industry and job,” Daniel says.

“I did an apprenticeship myself, and our manager at the moment actually started here as an apprentice, too. It’s really good to get kids in the gates and get their careers started.”

‘Inspirational female Arborist Trainee takes out three prestigious awards’ – AEN Awards

  • Trainee of the year
  • Inspiration Award: Women in Trades
  • GAN International Apprenticeship Scholarship

Katharine Starting her traineeship with Maroondah City Council in 2019.

On the March 11th 2021, WPC Group Arboriculture trainee Katharine Knapman took out three awards at the catch-up dinner for the 2020 Apprenticeship Employment Network (AEN) awards – the GAN Australia International Apprentice Scholarship, Inspiration Award: Women in Trades and Trainee of the Year.

The AEN Awards celebrate the achievements of apprentices, trainees and group training organisations in Victoria annually and this year they did not disappoint.

Starting her traineeship with Maroondah City Council in 2019, Katharine turned her passion for nature into a career. Maroondah City Council gave Katharine her start in the industry, introducing her to the trade where she gained confidence and met new people who shared her passion for the environment.

During her time with Maroondah City Council, Katharine proved her dedication and commitment to Arboriculture and her traineeship, by pursing her education outside of work, spending time with arborists who mentored her, showed her new skills and passed on their knowledge.

Now hosted with McLeod Trees, Katharine has had the opportunity to expand her knowledge further and work in different environments, undertaking new exciting tasks that will take her career to new heights.

Katharine is no stranger to winning awards. In 2019 she won the Outstanding First Year Student in Arboriculture at Holmesglen TAFE, which lead to her nomination for the 2019 Percy Moore Award with Holmesglen. Katharine also won the Timmy B Award at the VITO Climbing competition in 2019 for her attitude throughout the competition. WPC Group also nominated her for trainee of the year at the 2019 AEN awards.

When asked what winning the $12,000 scholarship means to her, Katharine says, “I will be able to further my education and career, going on to study higher certificates. Being able to continue my studies is just amazing.”

Winning Trainee of the Year, the Inspiration Award: Women in Trades and the GAN International Apprenticeship Scholarship gives Katharine the chance to promote Arboriculture, a trade that is still a new industry. Katharine is proud to show other women that they any do anything, that they can be part of a trade and pursue their dreams, “It would be really cool to see some more women to start trades and be part of the industry.”

Katharine thanked her employers; Maroondah City Council and McLeod Trees, WPC Group and her WPC Group mentor and her husband for supporting her throughout her traineeship.

Pictured left to right: Dean Luciani – AEN Chair, Tim Owens – WPC Group  Industry Consultant, Katharine Knapman – Trainee of the Year, the Inspiration Award: Women in Trades Recipient and the GAN International Apprenticeship Scholarship Recipient, Frederick J Maddern OBE – WPC Group Chairman and Gary Workman – AEN Executive Director.

Plenty of Jobs for the VET Set – Herald Sun

More than one million workers with vocational qualifications will be needed within the next two years to address rising skills shortages.

Training organisation WPC Group reports COVID-19 has exacerbated demand for vocational education and training (VET) graduates, with almost all of the 70-plus occupations on the National Skills Needs List accessible through VET.

Chloe Abela is completing a bushland traineeship at Maroondah Council.

WPC Group general manager Andrew Sezonov says traineeships and apprenticeships are not just for school leavers.

“Especially now,” he says. “They provide clear pathways for people who will need to upskill, or for those who want to pivot their career in a post-COVID workforce. There’s never been a better time for VET.”

Healthcare, including disability services, is one of the largest sectors crying out for VET-qualified workers, as are cyber security and the growing area of green energy, Sezonov says. He says hospitality workers will also be in high demand as that industry recovers from the pandemic downturn.

Sezonov hopes the need for vocationally educated workers will end the “identity crisis” surrounding VET, noting that apprentices who complete their training enjoy an average starting salary of $59,000 a year. This puts them on par with — or even ahead of — many university graduates.

Some apprentices, including electro technicians, earn annual starting salaries of more than $90,000 once they qualify. National Apprentice Employment Network chief executive Dianne Dayhew says the ability for vocational students to start work immediately — rather than wait until they become qualified to find their first job — is key to their appeal.

“COVID has turbocharged the need for skills and there’s a real sense of urgency out there,” she says. “Integrating employment and learning in a real-world environment means there’s not that delay in getting skills into the workplace.”

TAFE Directors Australia chief executive Craig Robertson says the need for so many VET-trained workers is a reminder of the “power” of structured apprenticeships and traineeships.

After finishing year 12, Chloe Abela caved into peer pressure and went to university, but dropped out of a degree in animation to pursue her love of working outdoors. The 21-year-old is now halfway through a bushland traineeship with Maroondah Council and believes increasing recognition of environmental degradation will ensure her skills are in high demand. “There is pressure (for school leavers) to go to uni but it’s important to be aware of what else is out there,” says Abela, whose role includes identifying native plant species and preserving them in their natural environment.

“I didn’t really think about horticulture being a trade until I did more research into it but I’ve never looked back. I enjoy going to work every day and I’ve become so passionate about native plants.”

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