Struggling apprentices gain help when things don't add up 


Alice Springs apprentices battling with maths and reading can now access expanded support services in literacy and numeracy.

Currently offered to Indigenous students at the Casuarina campus, the program has been expanded in Alice Springs through separate funding streams that will allow it to help all struggling local apprentices.

VET lecturer in language and literacy, Mandy Cawthorne-Crosby (pictured) is heading up the Alice Springs segment of the program funded by DEET.

She said there was a real need for customised support for apprentices across the campuses’ many teaching areas.

“Low language and literacy levels are impeding some of our students, many of whom are very talented with their hands but are hitting a wall when it comes to assignments and documentation,” she said.

“And many of these students who may have been disenfranchised with the school system are now struggling with similar learning expectations in their apprenticeship.”

Her response was to assess the students’ needs and, with lecturer feedback, develop literacy and numeracy programs that run parallel to their coursework.

Each identified student is allocated up to 20 hours of Mandy’s time without cost, which she said was important for money-poor students.

“As this forms part of my current position, I can work with each student in an environment that is one-on-one and perhaps very different to their classroom experiences in high school,” she said.

“It’s all about giving them confidence to ‘have a go’ at written tasks and my previous experiences have shown this is very important for first year apprentices who may be struggling with the literacy demands of an apprenticeship,” she said.

Mandy is assessing students through a skills audit and feedback from lecturers and said the program would begin in early May.

“I am really looking forward to working with these students and I believe that supporting them in their literacy skills may well make the difference between them continuing with their apprenticeship or not,” she said.