Training Benefits | The Employers Perspective
with Peter Brooks, Co-owner, First Class Automotives
Why do you choose to train apprentices? What does an apprentice bring to your team?
It's a little bit of diversification for the business. We have a cross range in the workshop, from fully qualified mechanics to first year apprentices, and apprentices are an important part of the business. They perform duties in the workshop that are basic duties but are important, things like cleaning up and basic mechanical duties, and while they are learning assisting mechanics in their job. We deal with a lot of different jobs and apprentices have different duties depending on their development.
How do you recruit your apprentices?
We recruit them through MTA WA and have done for at least the past 10 years, probably longer. When we're ready to select an apprentice, or when we're due to take on an apprentice, we give the MTA WA a call and they'll do the initial screening. We'll be sent one, two or three apprentices that our MTA training representative thinks is suitable for our business. Immediately that saves us time, and we have a choice of people hand-selected for our business.
We have one apprentice who's outside the MTA system – that was his choice due to the location of the training centre. Last year, this apprentice injured his back in his personal time but that led to four months off work, which was a bit of a strain on the business. Under normal arrangements with MTA we could have had options to replace him.
What is your approach to apprentice training? How do you make training work for you and your apprentice?
We trust in the MTA system for training, through the on-the-job training that is done here. The option is also there for any discussion, and so far we've had good interaction and communication with apprentices' supervisors, so any problem can be directed to them and handled quickly.
In 10 years time, where do you think the industry will be? What do you think today's apprentices need to be learning to be ready for those changes?
A lot is focussed on electronics. The mechanics of today are different than they were 10 years ago, and what they will be in another 10 years time obviously. I think apprentices today need to focus on electronics, and at least have an understanding of their principles. Apprentices in the future will no longer be called mechanics because it's no longer just purely mechanical, there are a lot of electronics involved in everything in the car. So they'll need to have a good understanding of both mechanical and electronic, and perhaps specialise in particular areas.
If you could give one piece of advice to an employer considering taking on an apprentice, what would it be?
Definitely just do it, and I would recommend choosing a good organisation to handle the process of selection and training. That's what MTA WA does for us and so I'd recommend using the MTA WA.