Australian Apprenticeships - Employer Award

The Australian Apprenticeships – Employer Award recognises those employers who have made innovative improvements in training which provide beneficial outcomes for their apprentices and/or trainees in Australia and to their local community.

WPC Group Training Organisation has been in the business of employing and training apprentices and trainees for more than 30 years. An innovative partnership with Nissan Motor Company is just one example of its commitment to creating better pathways for students and young job seekers -pathways that in effect, change lives. It is this commitment that has earned WPC Group the Australian Apprenticeships – Employer at the 2016 Award Australian Training Awards.

“As a community enterprise, we have seen how our work can change the game for students and young job seekers, creating clear pathways to a promising career and a stable economic future,” said Andrew Sezonov, General Manager, WPC Group. “That’s good for them, good for their communities and good for Australia.”

Nissan enlisted the help of WPC Group to facilitate their new apprenticeship program known as NISSMAP (Nissan Mentored Apprenticeship Program) in the context of a rapidly changing industry, an ageing workforce, yawning skills gaps, outmoded training methods and equipment and some resistance by employers to take on the ‘expense’ of employing an apprentice.

The new program included a complete redesign of the curriculum, structured so that within weeks apprentices could do basic work and have their time charged accordingly. In response to industry demand, a dual-trade light vehicle and auto electrical qualification was introduced. But the ultimate change that marked the difference between success or failure for Nissan was the one-on-one mentoring provided to all apprentices.

“Mentors help apprentices bridge the gap between school and the world of work,” said Andrew. “They help young apprentices reach their full potential by raising their aspirations and helping them grow in character, competence and confidence.”

More than 80 apprentices and 40 dealerships are now part of the NISSMAP program, and the rewarding, skills-focused on-the-job training opportunities have helped secure NISSAN an apprenticeship retention rate of 86 per cent, much higher than the industry average of just 49 per cent.

“Employers see value in working with community trusted intermediaries and the evidence is there for everyone to see that this program is the real deal - it’s changing lives,” said Andrew.

“The great thing about the Australian Training Awards is that they highlight the myth that vocational training only leads to boring, low-status, low paid jobs. Too many people put off pursuing what they really want in a career because they’ve fallen prey to the popular idea that it’s University or bust. In many cases, the problem isn’t a lack of opportunity, it’s a lack of information about all the amazing opportunities that do exist. Young people need to know their dream job is probably out there waiting for them; all they have to do is choose the right path towards it. And the VET sector is a great way to help them do that.”