Tips on delivering quality tradespeople

Plumbing Apprenticeships Victoria (PAV) is undergoing a reinvigoration, with new Group Training Scheme Manager Natalie Reynolds at the helm. Here Natalie shares some insights on what’s been happening as PAV launches into 2018 with a fresh new outlook, with some useful advice for anyone involved with apprentice recruitment.

Managing apprentices and developing them into quality and well-rounded tradespeople is fraught with challenges. Imagine monitoring more than 140 apprentices, ensuring they are progressing at trade school, and keeping themselves safe, while ensuring all the government obligations are met and host employers are happy… It’s all in a day’s work for Plumbing Apprenticeships Victoria.

At PAV, we take our obligations to the industry very seriously. And the hard work is already starting to pay off. In the words of Kelsey Horton, returning third year apprentice who has just rejoined us and been re-inducted ‘wow… things are looking really different. It’s great!” We are putting the changes in place that are needed to meet our compliance requirements and deliver quality apprentices who have had quality training experiences to their host employers.

If you are looking for good advice when managing apprentices, here are a couple of key pointers that could help.

Start as you intend to continue

On both sides. Apprentices want to know right from the beginning that they are going to learn their trade and that their employer knows what they need to do to fulfil this. At the same time, employers also need to choose carefully. At PAV, we receive some 50 applications per week. We also have access to the very best Master Plumbers pre-apprenticeship graduates. If Victorian readers need a hand with their recruitment drive, we are the quality industry go-to.

There are a number of reasons why apprentices fail to ‘stick’ that are caused by a mismatch. Here are a few that we have experienced:

• Failure to consider the geography of the work vs the place where the apprentice lives. Although a drive is often necessary, costs for the apprentice and likelihood of injury increases.

• Failure to recruit for attitude and fit with company culture rather than skills. There are some great tools that you can use, including Gallop’s Strengths Finder, a guidebook that I have found to help to ensure that the things that drive your apprentice on the inside match ith what you have to offer

• Personality mismatch with their direct supervisor or the supervisor. Try to work out a best fit to better facilitate learning and development opportunities

• Failure to be really clear about expectations up front. This doesn’t just refer to a site or safety induction, it’s about the complete outlook. Too often, we see that clear boundaries have not been set for apprentices. It’s then that issues arise. It’s important to be clear from the start and build the foundations of trust.

• Ensure the apprentice has a positive story to tell at the end of each day. Simple questions like ‘what did you learn today?’ and ‘when we did X today, it counted towards your work experience; or you will need Y to get through your Journeyman’s exam.‘

We have found that keeping the dialogue open keeps up the spirits and confidence of apprentices.

At PAV we are going out of our way to recruit the very best in the industry for host employers across Victoria.

For information on becoming a PAV apprentice or host employer please call PAV on 9329 9622.