Workforce training constructs Indigenous futures in Alice Springs 

Trainee builder Patrick Copp (pictured) is now on-the-job with Niland Construction

True industry driven training is resulting in positive employment outcomes for local Indigenous students.

The Alice Springs construction industry teamed up with Charles Darwin University’s (CDU) Alice Springs Campus, Tangentyre Council’s recruitment arm and the Department of Employment, Education and Training (DEET) to provide Indigenous youth with a solid opportunity for traineeships within the industry.

A four week intensive course was put together by the local construction industry. CDU trained 15 students, put forward for the course by Tangentyre Council and funding was arranged through DEET. The group then spent two weeks ‘on the job’ putting trade and interpersonal skills to practise.

So far the results of the program are promising. Student Kyle Kruger is starting his traineeship with local company Niland Construction and three others students are short listed for work. CDU will also continue on-site vocational training to trainees.

Course designer and industry representative Bob Bensen enjoyed the opportunity to assist young Indigenous people in the industry.

He said it was his first taste of both tutoring and working with Indigenous students and he was inspired to run the course again.

‘To get a class of shy blokes and to see them gain confidence and show so much enthusiasm and potential was extremely rewarding,’ he said. ‘I’ve realised with a bit of assistance, they are more than capable of being successful in this industry.’

Whilst basic construction skills including form-work and steel-fixing were taught on-site, Bob said improving workplace confidence and interpersonal skills were a key to success.

‘The construction industry can be fairly macho, but anyone who puts an effort in, regardless of their race of colour is respected,’ he said. ‘Overall the course has been a real success and many of these blokes have gained team work and interpersonal skills they will need working on-site.’

He said the students also worked as a close knit, strong and supportive group.

Paul Fitzsimons, Director of Remote Coordination said industry partnerships are an important key to breaking the cycle of Indigenous unemployment.

‘We acknowledge the need to listen and deliver skills on the needs of industry and give young Indigenous people exposure to workplace environments,’ he said. ‘For many, it’s their first foray into a very different culture and with the support and mentoring industry provides, the transition is easier.’

Peter Strachan, Managing Director of Tangentyere Job Shop agreed industry-driven programs are a successful training approach.

‘By having Bob Bensen as an industry based person coordinating the course, mentoring students and knocking on doors, he’s been able to explain to industry what these guys are capable of,’ he said.

The program is expected to be repeated again in the near future with more confident students asked to return as mentors to younger and shyer participants.