Pre-vocational training giving job-seekers the edge

In September 2017, Jordan Nicholson took an important first step towards securing an apprenticeship when he registered to complete a multi-trade pre-vocational course at HVTC’s Skills Centre in Rutherford.

The 18-year-old is now seven months into a mobile plant mechanic apprenticeship with HVTC and host employer Singleton Council.

On any given day Jordan could be servicing and repairing fleet vehicles, including Council’s 9-tonne tippers. And despite being a first year apprentice, Jordan is the only person in the workshop with a manual welding ticket allowing him to undertake field repairs.

This welding certificate is one of the qualifications Jordan achieved when he completed the multi-trade pre-apprenticeship course with HVTC, which he said was the best decision he could have made for this career.

“After leaving school in Year 11, when I had decided to do an apprenticeship, I sat down to figure out what would give me the best chance of getting an apprenticeship,” he said.

“I looked at all my options but in the end decided that the pre-voc course at HVTC was the best way forward to an apprenticeship as it would give me the best chance of getting into either electrical or mechanical trades.

“During my interviews with the host employer (Council), the workshop manager at the time was interested in the fact I had completed a pre-apprenticeship because he knew that by doing it on my own accord it was something I was obviously interested in. He also liked that I already had the welding ticket and electrical experience, which has really come in handy with electrical fault finding.

“If anyone wants to do a trade or wants a taste of what a trade is like to see if it’s really what they want to do, realistically I think a pre-apprenticeship is your best option. Employers also look upon it favourably as it shows you like to take initiative.”

HVTC Field Officer John Chivers said Jordan’s commitment to getting an apprenticeship and his drive to undertake additional training was what gave him the edge over other applicants.

“The skills Jordan developed in the pre-apprenticeship program complemented what he had already learnt at school and while working on the family farm. Together these skills made him the ideal candidate to commence a mobile plant apprenticeship with Singleton Council,” he said.

“His prior knowledge and dedication to joining a trade was what really made him stand out during the recruitment process. I’d recommend any young person seeking an engineering or mechanical trade to take a leaf out of Jordan’s book and undertake the Pre-Voc program.”

Pre-apprenticeships and pre-traineeships, which are also known as pre-vocational training programs, are designed to give job-seekers valuable skills and experience that will prepare them for the workforce.

HVTC CEO Sharon Smith said there are many reasons why job-seekers can benefit from completing pre-vocational education and training.

“One of the advantages is that it gives job-seekers the opportunity to try a trade before they fully commit to a four-year apprenticeship. This ensures they can make an informed career decision,” she said.

“It also gives job-seekers and prospective employees an introduction to workplace safety and other essential trade skills they would begin to learn if successful in gaining an apprenticeship.

“As well as practical skills, pre-vocational courses involve some portion of classroom learning where students can earn credits that go towards an apprenticeship if they are successful in gaining one. They also finish the course with a completion certificate that can be added to their resume.

“Apprenticeships are very competitive and we often receive hundreds of applications for a limited number of positions. By completing a pre-vocational course, you are giving yourself an edge over other candidates and demonstrating to prospective employers that you are prepared to go the extra mile to succeed. That is a very sought after quality.”

Pre-vocational programs are also designed to benefit employers, particularly when it comes to addressing retention and completion rates. In a report by NCVER, ‘Completion and attrition rates for apprentices and trainees 2015’, one of the most commonly cited reasons for not completing an apprenticeship or traineeship was ‘not liking the work’.

“If you can address this issue in the beginning by only hiring people you know are genuinely interested in the work, then this will help improve apprentice and trainee retention rates,” Ms Smith said.

“Pre-vocational programs are also a great way of screening applicants and measuring their aptitude, employability and importantly, their work-readiness.”

HVTC is running another Engineering Fabrication & Mechanical pre-vocational training program in the Hunter Region, located at the HVTC Skills Centre in Rutherford, NSW. The course is fee-free with planned commencement on October 2, 2018.

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HVTC apprentice Jordan Nicholson learning to drive a forklift at the Rutherford Skills Centre earlier this week as part of work-readiness training for host employer Singleton Council