The boss learns on the job, too

The boss learns on the job, too

  • Published on Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Taking on an apprentice can often lead to happier staff and higher levels of productivity, writes Owen Thomson.

Apprenticeships can do much more than provide training and guidance for the next generation of tradespeople. For businesses that choose to participate, the benefits can also be enormous. Research shows that investment in training staff can deliver dividends such as enhanced company profits, improved customer satisfaction and increased capacity for innovation. The case for in-house skills development couldn’t be stronger.

‘‘Businesses who train Australian Apprentices end up with skilled staff who have on-the-job experience as well as a formal qualification,’’ says Ja Turnbull, the South Australian Manager for the national provider of Australian Apprenticeships Support Services, MEGT. ‘‘This, in turn, leads to increases in work productivity, higher-quality work output and also proven worker retention.

‘‘This is due to the satisfaction of gaining on-the-job experience, a qualification, as well as seeing a pathway for progression. From the employer’s perspective, there’s also a range of Commonwealth government incentives and state benefits that they maybe eligible for.’’

When it comes to ensuring Australian Apprentice success stories, Turnbull says a high level of workplace integration is key.
‘‘From the employer’s perspective, there’s obviously the requirement to provide adequate supervision of Australian Apprentices to ensure they’re equipped with practical on-the-job training and experience, and to make sure that’s also supported through the registered training organisation delivering the formal qualification,’’ he says.

A Sydney-based hair salon owner, Tanya Mancini, knows all about the benefits of offering opportunities to new apprentices. Since starting FMK Hair at 18, Mancini, a former apprentice, has provided a start to about 30 budding stylists. ‘‘I’ve been taking them on for 20 years now,’’ says Mancini, whose business now has outlets in Fairfield Heights and Wetherill Park. ‘‘I just love training and keeping the craft and the passion for the industry alive. Taking on apprentices has actually grown our business. From starting very small with about four staff, we’ve now built up our business into 20-odd staff.’’

Mancini says a few of her staff are going into their 10th year at the salon and some have moved into management. ‘‘Putting on apprentices does allow you to grow your business and increase profits,’’ she says. ‘‘They also add to the whole customer experience.’’

One of Mancini’s apprentices, 17-year-old Ebony Walsh, typifies the benefits of bringing in new talent. ‘‘Ebony has a beautiful passion for the industry,’’ she says. ‘‘These days it’s great for someone of her age to bring out that passion through her skills with her clients. ‘‘She’s won a few competitions lately thanks to her artistic ability for men’s cutting, and she’s just a pleasure to be with.

She’s really shown a willingness and eagerness to train. She never complains.’’ Walsh is in the process of completing the second year of her apprenticeship and her on-the-job training is enabling her to fulfil strongly held career ambitions. ‘‘It’s really great because you’re constantly learning – you never stop,’’ the apprentice says. ‘‘And you’re always involved with what’s going on out there in the salon. ‘‘Working with Tanya is fantastic. I’m constantly learning from her. You know what she’s been through, so you know her answers are reliable. I’ve learnt so many things from her, with probably the most important things being my customer skills.’’

Room is already being made for the next generation of FMK hairstylist. ‘‘Ebony is moving up to the next level and we’re now bringing in another two apprentices to take over what she’s been doing the last two years,’’ Mancini says.

Master in training, apprentice EbonyWalsh, 17, with salon owner Tanya Mancini. Photo: Sahlan Hayes