#SkillsetStories: Meet our host Dave Cooper from DR & DV Cooper

#SkillsetStories: Meet our host Dave Cooper from DR & DV Cooper

For this #SkillsetStory we sat down with Bricklayer Dave Cooper from DR & DV Cooper. Dave runs a successful bricklaying business in Orange and has been working as a Bricklayer for over 40 years. Dave is a wonderful advocate for bringing young people into his business to complete their apprenticeship and at the same time teaching them valuable life skills. We spoke with Dave and found out about his experience with Skillset and the value of taking on apprentices.

David Cooper - Host Employer Skillset

How long have you worked in partnership with Skillset?

I’ve been working with Skillset since 1998.  This year will be the 20th year that I have worked with Skillset.

How many apprentice/trainees have you taken on?

I have employed 11 apprentices and I still have Blake still working with me today. But I encourage the apprentices to stay with me for 6 -12 months after they complete their apprenticeship then move on so they can have a variety of experiences and learn from others.

How has your experience with Skillset been?

It’s been terrific. Skillset has always been reliable and answers my phone calls every single time I call. Skillset have the reach to help apprentices get through things if they are having a tough time. For example, if an apprentice is having a tough time at TAFE or experiencing difficulties personally, the consultants are approachable enough to help them get through it. It’s really important that it’s not just about business but it’s the approach to an apprentice’s well-being too.

What successes have you experienced as a Host Employer?

I’ve never had to sack anyone I’ve brought on as an apprentice or trainee. I’ve only ever had to hand back one Apprentice over the 20 years I’ve been working with Skillset. I’m proud to say that my business has a 99% completion rate.

My apprentices have also had their own accolades such as:

  • Kyran Bubb selected to represent Western for Golden Trowel
  • Kyran Bubb NSW & ACT GTA Apprentice of the Year Winner
  • Kyran Bubb Finalist for GTA Australian Apprentice of the Year
  • Kyran Bubb Western DEC Apprentice of the Year Finalist
  • Kyran Bubb CWA Apprentice Scholarship winner
  • Blake Hutchinson Bert Evans Scholarship Winner

How have you found the experience of having apprentices and trainees as a part of your business?

I wouldn’t function without them. I’m at retirement age and I know I couldn’t work with a bunch of guys around the same age as me, I’d fight with them all the time and be cranky. I still enjoy getting out of bed each day and coming to work with the boys. They are a really good group of guys.

These kids are with you eight hours a day and I’m trying to provide them with work and life guidance as some of them haven’t had a father figure in their life.  I’ve seen too many kids leave the industry heartbroken because their hosts have been too hard on them. Bricklaying has a reputation for being a hard man’s game.

Why do you think it’s important to invest in skilling and employing local youth?

The building industry in Orange is starting to experience a skills shortage and we are in real need of skilled trades. By teaching our youth, we’re building a workforce for the future that has the right attitude and work ethic. It’s important that we keep the flow of apprentices coming through to keep the bricklaying market at a reasonable level. Bricklaying is a key part of the construction industry.

What has been the best thing about working with Skillset? 

They have helped me to employ more apprentices than I would originally think I would have. The service Skillset provides has allowed me to focus on the day to day running of my business, and relieve the pressures of having to do bookkeeping, payroll and sort out any performance management issues with the boys – they do all that for me

What would you say to anyone considering engaging Skillset to take on an apprentice?

You get access to a wide range of services that would be perfect for small businesses. We get access to HR, insurances, Work Health and Safety services through the small fee you pay. The fee is reasonable for what you get access to.

I hate seeing kids left behind and I know that if I didn’t have work for my apprentices then I can hand them back to Skillset and Skillset will find them another brickie to work with. The apprentice doesn’t lose their job because they are employed by Skillset not me, and Skillset work hard to get them another placement. I’m proud to see my apprentices have their own teams and are successful and I’m fortunate to have been offered, great young kids.

Finally, what sets you apart from other Bricklayers?

I have a lot of respect for other bricklayers in Orange and it’s really special that we are able to work together. If I’m quiet, I’m able to send my boys over to other bricklayers that need help and I’m able to do the same.

We are easy to work for. There’s no fuss. The only difference I would say is that I am a big believer in the youth of today and giving them a chance. It’s important to have patience with your apprentices as well as allowing them to make mistakes and not leave them behind. It’s important to be productive but if we teach them right then it makes the whole business more productive.

Thanks, Dave for giving young people in regional NSW the chance to start their future careers! 

#SkillsetStories: Meet Edward Brown from Bridges Financial Services

#SkillsetStories: Meet Edward Brown from Bridges Financial Services

Bridges Financial Services | Skillset

Skillset was fortunate enough to sit down with one of our longest Host Employers, Edward Brown from Bridges Financial Services. The Brown Family has been operating in financial advisory services in Bathurst for over 31 years. They are big advocates for helping skill the youth of the Central West NSW. They have brought on six trainees over the past 19 years with all of them having long tenures and others still working with Edward today. They have a wonderful business and a great reputation for offering friendly service with the right advice. We chatted with Edward about his experience working with Skillset and how his business is different to others. 

What does your business specialise in?

Bridges cover a broad spectrum of financial planning and investment services to help clients reach their financial goals. We offer a holistic financial planning services including Superannuation, Investing, Personal insurance, Stockbroking, Retirement, Estate planning and Aged Care advice.

How long have you worked in partnership with Skillset?

19 years

How has your experience with Skillset been?

We couldn’t fault Skillset’s service; it has been outstanding. The process of taking vetting of the candidates out of my hands is cost-effective and pays for itself. When I have been presented candidates, both Skillset and I have always agreed with the person to hire.

How many apprentice/trainees have you taken on? Are any of them still working with you today?

We have hired six trainees in 19 years. The decision to take on trainees was suggested by my mother. The trainees that have been hired have had a long tenure which is incredible in an age where moving jobs often have become the trend. Every trainee is offered a position at the end of their traineeship with three of my trainees still working with me today, but the others have had long tenures themselves.

What roles/vocations have you hired your apprentices/trainees for?

All of the trainees start as Front of House and complete a business administration traineeship. Some of them have progressed to higher roles such as a Senior Paraplanner, Office Manager, and Paraplanner. Other trainees have progressed to other roles such as Real Estate Office Manager who is completing a Bachelor Degree in Nursing and a Business Development Manager in Banking. I check in with all of my employees who have since left the business and every person has a standing invite to the end of year Christmas Party and everyone attends. It’s just awesome.

How have you found the experience of having apprentice and trainees a part of your organisation?

I don’t understand why other businesses don’t take on trainees. It is a simple process that Skillset offer, it’s cost-effective and time efficient especially when I’m always on the road visiting clients.  Thanks to Skillset’s assistance, I have been extremely lucky to have found such great trainees who are valuable assets to Bridges but also helped build a family environment. Bringing on a trainee allows you to teach people the way you want things done, from the very beginning. Within Bridges, the trainee is being trained by previous trainees which keep the processes functioning. It also provides a nice touch that the trainee knows that they have colleagues to lean on who have been through similar experiences. I find traineeships provide opportunities to young people that allow them to get training that they wouldn’t normally receive.

Why do you think it’s important to invest in skilling and employing local youth?

It is extremely important to invest in youth employment. I volunteer at Headspace as a financial counsellor and it’s this experience that has made me realise that it’s a must. We must develop skills otherwise our town suffers. It is a perpetual cycle. The most important thing though is that if you don’t train them, then how are they able to take on the world. I take pride in knowing that we are setting them on the right path to be successful in their own individual way. I’m also a big believer in giving someone a shot, they don’t have to have a resume filled with experience and accolades but they do have to have the drive to work and be committed. The benefits are two-fold. It benefits business and benefits the individual. Investing locally helps our local communities thrive.

What has the best thing been about working with Skillset?

The best thing is the people Skillset have given us. Our employees are the fabric of our business and we wouldn’t be successful without them.

What would you say to anyone considering engaging Skillset to take on an apprentice/trainee?

The ease of service is great. If the trainee doesn’t work out, then the ability to hand them back is a great business benefit. But I haven’t had to do that. The service they offer such as Pay Roll, Superannuation, insurances, HR, and WHS means that it is one less person I have to worry about for two years. It saves time, is cost-effective and we have the trainee locked in for two years. Finding the right person can be difficult but leaving it in Skillset’s capable hands means I can focus on my business.


The Brown Family History

Our family has been associated with Bridges since 1990. The business was started by my father, Geoff Brown and has now been operating for over 31 years. I joined Bridges in 2000 and took over management of the business in 2013. Financial planning was not something that I ever originally intended to pursue. I was in Sydney playing in a Heavy Metal Band when I decided to embark on the journey of becoming a financial planner. My father, Geoff has built a wonderful business that is focussed on providing the best service possible to all and I continue to ensure that this always our key focus.

Business Location(s)

Bridges Bathurst is located in George Street and Russell Street. Our service area covers the entire Central West, including Bathurst, Orange, Parkes, Forbes, and Cowra.

How long has your business been operating/when did it start?

My dad started his financial planning business in 1987 and it has been operating for 31 years. I joined the business in 2000 after I completed my studies and took over management of the business in 2013. The business has gone from strength to strength due to its exceptional reputation for the customer service we provide to clients.

What sets Bridges apart from other financial advisory services?

That can be put down to the businesses success in service delivery. It’s simple – be nice to people, help educate and build trust. We have had clients for 25 to 30 years with the younger generations choosing to seek advice from Bridges just because their relatives have had a wonderful experience. We haven’t had to spend a cent on advertising. We are successful because of referrals and building strong relationships. We have built great rapport and trust with clients. Providing advice on financial matters can be extremely sensitive but we’ve been able to mitigate risk and make clients feel like their best interests are always top of mind. We are a family business and we feel like the whole organisation is a big family. Put simply we succeed because we are nice to people.

Thoughts on leadership

I definitely like to lead from the front and create a positive culture within my workplace. I feel I have developed my positive leadership style by watching my father but I also learned it from hearing other people’s experiences. There’s no point in being abrasive, unhappy and quiet. You need to be the opposite of those things. I like to keep the workplace light-hearted and relaxed but results are important too, as is attention to detail. But at the end of the day, I want to have a culture where my staff feel like they can tell me anything they need to. Financial matters are a very sensitive topic. They have to learn how to deal with different personalities and I make sure they are exposed to these situations. I have been lucky to lead and retain great people. One of my trainees has been working for me for 18 years and then another trainee who has nearly been here for 10 years.

Where to find Bridges Financial Services? 

Bridges Financial Services is located at 82 George Street, Bathurst NSW 2795 or you can call the office on (02) 6331 5111.

If you’re interested in finding out about employing an apprentice or trainee, please call the Skillset Workforce team on 1300 853 525. You can also find information regarding apprenticeships and traineeships here. 

Skillset’s Amanda Ferguson is namesake for Women’s Central West Rugby Union Cup

Skillset’s Amanda Ferguson is namesake for Women’s Central West Rugby Union Cup

Skillset Workforce are so incredibly proud of our own Regional Manager, Amanda Ferguson!

The former Wallaroos train-on squad member has received the “absolute honour” of having this year’s women’s league, in which last year’s Blowes Clothing Cup and GrainCorp Cup have been combined, named in recognition of her efforts and dedication to rugby.

Amanda has been a huge advocate of promoting the women’s game and we couldn’t think of a better person to be looked up to by young women in the game!

Article originally posted on Central Western Daily. 

The chance to win a trophy named after yourself is pretty rare, but that’s exactly what Orange Emus, Central West and NSW Country stalwart Amanda Ferguson has this year in Central West Rugby Union’s new-look women’s competition.

Ferguson has been involved with rugby as a player, a coach and an administrator since she found the game in high school and, in particular, has always focused specifically on promoting the women’s game.

As a result, the former Wallaroos train-on squad member has received the “absolute honour” of having this year’s women’s league, in which last year’s Blowes Clothing Cup and GrainCorp Cup have been combined, named in recognition of her efforts.

Starting in Saturday’s opening round, her Orange Emus and the competition’s 10 other title contenders will compete for the Westfund Amanda Ferguson Cup.

“I would never, ever have expected this, I’m pretty speechless,” a beaming Ferguson said at the competition’s launch on Wednesday morning.

“It’s an absolute honour. I’m chuffed. At Emus we’ve got a lot of new girls so I’m only playing to try and help them develop, and pass my passion on, but I guess winning the trophy would be interesting.

“Moving to 11 teams, we’ll get regular games and tough competition. It’s a great step for growth as individuals, teams and then for the competition itself.

“We just don’t know what we’ll come up against, no team can be taken for granted you know, there’s a sense of unknown about it which makes it more exciting.

“Obviously Bathurst Bulldogs won the Blowes Clothing Cup last year and West Wyalong were always really strong and consistent in the GrainCorp Cup, so they’ll be tough to beat and probably have a point to prove, they’ll want to stamp their authority on the new competition.”

That continued growth of the women’s game is what excites Ferguson the most, with Central West’s bumper league becoming another stepping stone on the path to the top just like this season’s inaugural Super W competition has at the elite level.

“With the amazing, exciting opportunities women have in the game now, well, I wish I was 20 years younger,” Ferguson laughed.

“It’s just so exciting. I can’t encourage people more to get involved, just get involved and try it. You know, with the success we’ve had at sevens and the Wallaroos doing well at the World Cup too, there’s a lot of interest around the women’s game and that’s great.”

The 2018 Westfund Amanda Ferguson Cup kicks off on Saturday, Bulldogs host Cowra, Orange City hosts CSU Bathurst, Cootamundra hosts Temora, Dubbo Rhinos and West Wyalong face-off in Parkes while Ferguson’s Emus travel to Grenfell to play Harden.

Good News for Youth Unemployment as Pledge250 Reaches Target

Good News for Youth Unemployment as Pledge250 Reaches Target

Hines Construction - Pledge 250 - Skillset Workforce

Skillset Workforce hits Pledge250 target! 

The Skillset Workforce Pledge 250 jobs campaign reached its 250th job target last week, coinciding with a recent Brotherhood of St Laurence Report highlighting significant decreases in youth unemployment across the Central West, Far West and Orana regions.

Skillset Workforce Senior Manager Jane McWilliam said it’s enormously encouraging to see the youth unemployment rates decreasing so significantly over the past two years. “Since January 2016 youth unemployment in the Central West has decreased by 5.3 per cent and in the Far West/Orana by an astonishing 10.4 per cent. We launched our first Pledge 250 campaign in November 2016 and while there are other contributing factors we believe we have had a small part to play in this incredible turnaround. We would like to thank all of the businesses who have pledged jobs and helped change so many young people’s lives.”

The 250th job, pledged by Hines Construction, was for a Contracts Administrator. Edward Lindsay, who is completing an apprenticeship with Skillset Workforce was the successful candidate. Lindsay said he is excited to be able to forge a career in Construction. “To be able to move into full-time work at the end my apprenticeship is awesome and I can’t thank Hines Construction enough for giving a young person like me this opportunity to grow my career in the Construction Industry.”

Hines Construction Managing Director David Hines said that his company has a major focus on employing local people and is delighted to have pledged 6 jobs for the Pledge250 Campaign. “Employing local people is an important focus here at Hines Constructions and we believe that we have some of the most highly skilled employees in the Central West. Partnering with Skillset Workforce allows us to focus on our business and takes the stress of recruitment off our shoulders.”

Skillset run a number of programs such as Skills4Trade, Youth Connect and Skillset Workforce Mentor Plus to help local youth in our region build their skill base for employment. Skillset CEO Craig Randazzo said Skillset Workforce is working with local businesses to identify what skills are needed. “Since November 2017, 67 per cent of jobs pledged were apprenticeships and traineeships. The campaign doesn’t stop here and it is our goal to continue to lower youth unemployment rates by working with local businesses to identify their needs and upskill our youth for their best chance of employment.”

To find out more about Skillset Workforce programs that are currently running please call 1300 853 525, email info@skillset.com.au or visit www.skillset.com.au

Check out the Prime7 News Central West Story here.

Moolarben Coal and Skillset Workforce lend a helping hand in Mudgee

Moolarben Coal and Skillset Workforce lend a helping hand in Mudgee

Twenty Mudgee locals kicked off new careers with Moolarben Coal this year, demonstrating Moolarben’s ongoing commitment to the local community through employment and training.

Recruited and employed by Skillset Workforce, the new starters are working in a range of roles including electrical, heavy plant and fixed plant mechanical apprenticeships, underground and surface operators and drill and blast traineeships.

Moolarben Coal General Manager Steve Archinal acknowledged the boost the new recruits bring to the workforce.

“We are proud to be involved with Skillset and to provide members of our community with new skills and an opportunity within our workforce. Additionally, our people find it a rewarding experience to be a part of this program, teaching teamwork and commitment,” said Steve.

These roles form part of the Skillset Workforce Pledge250 Jobs Campaign, which aims to address youth unemployment across the region.

With the Campaign currently at 237 jobs created, Skillset Workforce Senior Manager Jane McWilliam says they are almost.

“We are really committed to making a difference, both in people’s lives and in our regional communities, and we need businesses to help us do this. We need to work together to grow the skills and people our region needs for now and into the future. Moolarben Coal are paving the way and we encourage other businesses to get on board and commit to the future through jobs and training.”

Have a look at the great Prime News Story.

To find out more about Skillset Workforce and Pledge250 visit skillset.com.au or call 1300 853 525.

Mentor Plus Launched Today

Mentor Plus Launched Today

Skillset launched their new support service, Skillset Workforce Mentor Plus, for apprentices and trainees in the Construction and Mining industries across the Central, Western and New England regions of NSW today in Bathurst.

On 31 January 2018, the Assistant Minister for Vocational Education and Skills, the Hon Karen Andrews MP, announced the 24 organisations selected to deliver the Australian Government’s new Industry Specialist Mentoring for Australian Apprentices (ISMAA) program.
The Australian Government has recognised Skillset’s expertise and experience in providing specialist support to apprentices and trainees for over 35 years by selecting them to deliver the ISMAA service. The ISMAA program will provide intensive support for over 40,000 Australian Apprentices in the first two years of their training in a wide range of industries undergoing structural change.
The support provided to Australian Apprentices will help address particular career and skills development concerns related to their specific industry and situation. Through the ISMAA program, Skillset Workforce Mentor Plus will provide Australian Apprentices with regular one on one contact with highly skilled mentors who have skills sets that enable them to service the targeted cohort.
Skillset CEO Mr Craig Randazzo says the new service will provide valuable support to apprentices and trainees across much of regional NSW. “We are incredibly excited to have been selected to deliver this new program, and to know that we will be able to make a difference – to the apprentices and trainees, and also to the businesses where they work. Everyone benefits from improved apprenticeship completion rates, and in industries that have been undergoing change this is particularly important.”

Skillset Workforce Plus Mentor Plus Program Manager Ben Ruddy Senior Manager Jane McWilliam Chair David Cooke Mentor Jacqueline Breen and Acting Engagement and Support Manager Sandra Gray

Skillset Workforce Mentor Plus Program Manager Ben Ruddy with 1st year apprentice and Mentor Plus client Kaled Jawai at Hort Engineering