Skillset is driving regional prosperity through SkillForce360

Skillset is driving regional prosperity through SkillForce360

Our current regional jobs growth campaign, SkillForce360 is aimed at guiding and supporting regional businesses for a strong future. With 5 key messages, Skillset has the success of businesses at heart.


1)      Build and develop your team

For businesses to remain in touch with society and maintain a competitive advantage, their team needs to be constantly growing and progressing.
Recent reports have stated the increasing demand for employees to be hired based on their soft skills rather than their level of industry knowledge, qualifications and experience.

Steve Jobs famously insisted, that an individual’s hard skills are not enough. Organisations desperately need the expertise of those who are educated to the human, cultural and social as well as the technical knowledge of their role.

Individuals who hold attributes of being a good coach, critical thinker and problem solver, in addition to having strong communication skills and empathetic views were considered greater assets to a workplace than individuals with qualifications and excessive experience.

For a workplace, it is more beneficial to hire based on your desired soft skills, and then provide necessary training and mentoring to the employee in order to build the ideal team who works cohesively together with the wide range of required technical skills and knowledge.


2)      Support skills development to address skills gaps

The commonly spoken about ‘skills gap’ is a term used to describe not the lack of job applicants, but the difference between the skills that employers want, as shown by their job advertisements, and those that are available from workers looking for a job.

In September 2018, the national average of unemployment was at 5.0%, with unemployment in our Central Western regions slightly higher at 5.4%. Meanwhile our Far West and Orana regions had a decrease of 3.0% in their unemployment rates, currently sitting at 2.9%.

Long standing Skillset host employer, Dave Cooper from DR and DV Cooper Bricklaying in Orange, considers the training of apprentices as an effective means to ending the skill shortage and assists his business in remaining fresh and enthusiastic.

“I’ve been working with Skillset for 20 years because it is evident just how much my business relies on apprentices. Skilled labour is hard to find these days, but apprentices allow you to train them in a way that creates your business’ ideal worker.”

Mr Cooper stated, “80% of my business is made up of apprentices because I honestly couldn’t function without them. I gain so much on both a personal and professional level, watching my boys enter the industry with limited knowledge and low self-esteem, then 4 years later they’re qualified, confident and competent workers who are ready to be business owners themselves. The fresh energy and enthusiasm that these young workers bring to work each day, makes waking up every morning worthwhile.”


3)      Source the best candidates for recruitment and labour hire

For a business to perform well, they need to have the right team with the right skills and personalities to suit the work environment. Sometimes this can be hard for employers to see in potential recruits when hiring.

By choosing to outsource the recruitment of staff to a trusted and proven organisation, your business will save time and money. Your business will be able to concentrate on what you do best – working in your business, while Skillset Workforce does what we do best – recruitment.

Our recruitment process includes five key stages and a dedicated after placement monitoring service and guarantee to ensure we not only find the right employee for your business, but to ensure they continue to perform well in the future years.

Dale Curran, Executive Officer of Skillset’s newest host employer, Western Research Institute (WRI) in Bathurst says,

“This has been the first time our organisation has hired a trainee, but we’ve found that it has created critical capacity in our small team, and a business trainee in particular ensures the day to day cogs of business are always turning smoothly so that we can concentrate on the bigger picture. It’s been a worthwhile investment.”


4)      Increase employment opportunities in regional NSW

Data clearly shows consistent job growth in regions and a rising workforce shortage.
Meeting the job demand for regions with workers is fundamental to the future of our regions. Regions need more permanent workers than what they are currently getting, as well as more people looking to regional Australia for job opportunities that are suitable for them.

In order to attract permanent workers, the employer needs to be able to offer long term professional development opportunities to the individual to encourage them to remain in the regional workforce. With the right support and direction, these long term strategies not only assist businesses in attracting the right permanent workers, but ensures their community is equipped for survival.


5)      Foster the prosperity of regional communities

Did you know that for each dollar you spend at independent businesses, it returns 3 times more money to your local economy than one spent at a large chain. Supporting the survival of your local community means that the community as a whole benefit from the prosperity.

By developing a skilled and developed business, you are offering your local community services that encourage them to spend locally. That not only brings money into your business, but builds a stronger economy around you.

Kathy Woolley, Chief Executive Officer of Skillset host employer, Western Research Institute (WRI) in Bathurst supports this message by stating why they signed up for SkillForce360,

“As an organisation focused on the development of regional communities, we know the importance of providing traineeships in rural and regional communities. Research completed by WRI in the past has highlighted that traineeships and apprenticeships leads to better economic outcome for the whole community and builds long term value to the local economy.”


Play your part in future proofing your business and wider community by joining the SkillForce360 campaign which will build the skills of 360 people in our region. 

Why our apprentices could be the answer to your business’ future needs

Why our apprentices could be the answer to your business’ future needs

SkillForce360 - Skillset Workforce - Jobs Campaign

Since the Skillset Workforce SkillForce360 jobs growth campaign launched a month ago, there have been over 80 new jobs placed within regional NSW…. we’re 22% of the way to our goal already!

What are the reasons behind creating 360 new jobs?
Are we trying to provide our youth with jobs? Contribute to a more skilled workforce for the future? Or are we aiming to assist our local businesses with attracting the skills they require to remain strong in the rapid changes of our current time?

Whilst we’re achieving all of the above, the greatest aim for SkillForce360 is to foster our regional communities to grow and prosper, and educate businesses on the importance of training and upskilling to address the nationwide skills shortage.

Earlier this year, the NSW Government launched the Fee-Free Apprenticeships initiative for over 120 different courses to help address the states skills shortage. Statistics show that NSW will need another 50,000 skilled construction workers in the next 12 months alone. Basically, there’s no better time to think about career choices and take on this opportunity.

With so many options available, why is it that young people are reporting to find it harder than ever before to find jobs following graduation, yet the government has announced a major skills shortage and demand for workers?


So what exactly is a skills shortage?

The ‘skills gap’ is a term used to describe not the lack of job applicants, but the difference between the skills that employers want, as shown by their job advertisements, and those that are available from workers looking for a job.


What actually defines a skilled worker?

A skilled worker is any worker who has special skill, training, knowledge and ability in their work. They may have attended a college, university or technical school, or may have gained their experience through on the job training.

When discussing a skills shortage, we refer to Australia’s lack of trained or qualified workers. Recent studies show that Australia’s rate of Year 12 completion is lower than both Europe and America, with the average school completion rate at 83%. Further, 38.2% of these school completers are not continuing in education or training.  Of the people that continue onto further education, around 1 in 5 will drop out within the first few weeks due to lack of engagement, information and stress overload or inability to see a beneficial end result.

For this reason, apprenticeships offer a many advantages for workplaces. Majority of university or college degrees are heavily focused on academic learning with very minimal practical application, whilst apprenticeships are focused on developing knowledge supported by useful, on-the-job learning which also allows apprentices to earn a wage whilst training.


So how do businesses better equip themselves to deal with the ever changing trends?

During a former discussion with business futurist and innovation expert, Craig Rispin, he emphasised the substantial changes coming in what has been named as the 4th Industrial Evolution.

“The upcoming industrial evolution won’t just change what we do, it’ll change us as humans”.

It’s essential that businesses accept the need for technology in everyday tasks and identify what areas of their business will become automated over the next 5-10 years, and further distinguish what skills they require to hold a competitive advantage for future years.

In order to address the skills gap and assist our businesses with achieving greater productivity, there are 3 key areas that help build a skilled worker. It starts with education, then it’s up to the individual to pursue their strengths, and finally their workplaces must be open to change and understand how to use it to their advantage.


  • Education plays a key role

As individuals recognise their need for skill development and practical experiences, the demand is for our education systems to shift towards a more realistic, hands-on approach to learning. Whilst VET courses already offer this advantage, it’s important that the real-world skills are taught early in high school to better prepare our young people for the realities of the workforce.

Many school leavers are starting to shift towards a preference for VET courses opposed to the traditional university degree, with the 2018 Youth Census outlining that those participants who pursued a university pathway reported lower levels of wellbeing than some other post-school pathways.

Given the way apprenticeships are structured, young people reported a greater sense of meaning and optimism, were driven by a clear goal, and motivated by the annual course completion rewards.

Additional findings showed that a staggering 90% of the highest growth jobs in the next five years only require a VET qualification.

The skills required to fill the national skills shortage aren’t those that can be learnt by reading a textbook, they’re developed through interaction in a workplace. Services such as those offered by Skillset Youth Connect, provide school leavers with mentoring and assistance to plan, set and achieve the education, training and career goals that are right for each individual, to then help them move into appropriate employability.


  • Individuals need to be proactive

It’s a matter of looking at your resume and identifying your skills and knowledge, then recognising what you think you don’t know. From here you can start listing the skills associated with the things that you don’t know and begin enhancing your skillset and filling the gap with education and experiences through short courses, work experience or mentoring.

This process of career enhancement and personal development is about challenging yourself and being courageous enough to learn something new and having the confidence in your abilities. In a rapidly changing workforce, it’s important that you have communication and problem-solving skills to figure the rest out.


  • Managers mindsets need to shift

Providing training opportunities and career development pathways are essential for a business’ talent retention strategy. Investing in your people today, is a long term investment for the long term success of your business.

There’s no doubt that Richard Branson is one of the greatest leaders of our time due to his unique outlook on managing people and desire to create a team that is driven by the same core values.  For managers to recognise the value of their employees and be genuinely interested in them are two of the great qualities for leaders to have.

“Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.”
– Richard Branson

Studies show that employees who feel supported and encouraged in their profession are more engaged and productive on a day-to-day basis and will stay in the organisation for longer. Some businesses object to training apprentices as they feel that they invest too much time and energy only to have them leave.

“Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to.”
– Richard Branson

In our current workforce, we have four generations, each of which have different learning, leading and work styles. Our generation Z workers are often frowned upon for being “lazy, self-centred and entitled, however they are an asset in today’s digital age. For businesses to thrive in today’s digital market, they need to embrace young workers and all that they have to offer rather than focussing on the way the business has always done things.

Change is coming and it’s happening fast! Businesses need to prepare their employees and ensure that they’re open to finding new solutions.

Apprenticeships are beneficial to businesses because they provide employers with a low-risk sense of ‘trialling’ the employee before they’re hired full-time. Apprenticeships are a way of the future in that they close the skills gap to an extent where the employer can train the apprentice their way and equip them with necessary skills.

If businesses think they will be looking for staff to fill any skills gaps anytime in the next 4 months, they’re encouraged to contact Skillset Workforce who will have a pool of talented young people who are keen to work and who have been supported to work out what the best fit career is for them. Services such as those offered at Skillset, take the risk out of the recruitment process.




Powering People for a Stronger Future: 1 on 1 with William Farrugia

Powering People for a Stronger Future: 1 on 1 with William Farrugia

Skillset Workforce launched SkillForce360on on October 1. SkillForce360 is a campaign aimed to engage 360 people across the region into education or employment by 31st March, 2019. The slogan of the campaign, “powered by people” focusses on building skilled individuals that contribute to the productivity and development of our region’s businesses.

The campaign was built based on studies conducted by the Australian Government that identified a nationwide skills shortage which acknowledged that the supply of workers is not sufficient to meet the demand at current rates of pay. Statistics show that NSW will need another 50,000 skilled construction workers in the next 12 months alone.

SkillForce360 will generate a higher number of employment opportunities in Regional NSW, support skills development, and develop job ready young people who are confident in the roles they are applying for.

Our target of 360 will be achieved through the number of new apprentices, trainees, permanent and labour hire recruits. Additionally, our Youth Connect participants who enrol in education or secure employment will contribute to our goal, as well as any Skills4Trade course graduates.

Skills4Trade is a fully subsidised pre-employment program for 15-40 year olds who have left school and are interested in a pathway to a trade career. The program allows participants to gain a hands on approach to learning about different industries, trade careers, and apprenticeship opportunities, whilst receiving career planning, and discovering what trade is the best fit for them.

We had a chat to Dubbo’s Multi-Trade Skills4Trade course participant, William Farrugia about his course and what he’s gaining from the experience.

Skillset: What are your hobbies?
William: I love to go fishing, camping, playing football and anything that involves the outdoors

Skillset: What’s your dream job?
William: I’ve always wanted to be a boilermaker.

Skillset: Why did you enrol into Skills4Trade?
William: I wanted to improve my opportunities in gaining an apprenticeship.
In school, I studied subjects like construction, metals, engineering and automotive, and I really enjoyed the hands on subjects. When I came across Skills4Trade, I thought it would give me more of an opportunity to enter into a boilermaker apprenticeship and receive career planning.

Skillset: What are you enjoying the most about Skills4Trade?
William: Being in the engineering workshop and being hands-on means every day is a little different. We’re currently working on a die, and I find it challenging but really enjoyable.

Skillset: Would you recommend this course to others your age?
William: Absolutely. I think this course is perfect for anyone who’s willing to get their hands dirty and try out something new before entering into an apprenticeship. It’s really important to work in an industry you love and Skills4Trade gives you the opportunity to try out a few different courses before committing to an industry you actually like.

“It’s important to work in an industry you love… Skills4Trade gives you the opportunity to find what you like”

AIE Open Day opens up world of opportunity for Youth Connect’s Callum Jennings

AIE Open Day opens up world of opportunity for Youth Connect’s Callum Jennings

Callum Jennings - Skillset Workforce - Youth ConnectCallum is a 19-year-old young man who registered with Skillset Youth Connect through the Bathurst Jobs Expo in August 2018. Callum completed his HSC at Denison College last year and is considering going to University in the future, but doesn’t feel quite ready yet and wanted to explore his options.

Skillset Youth Connect assisted Callum with career planning advice and helped him identify the educational and employment pathways that could one day lead to his dream job – game design! Callum has a passion for 3D modelling, game design, and digital content creation, and with our help, has enrolled in Certificate III Information Digital Media & Technology at TAFE NSW to begin his career journey.

To help make this decision, Skillset Youth Connect encouraged Callum to attend an open day at AIE (Academy of Interactive Entertainment) in Sydney to broaden his understanding of career options in the game development, animation, and visual effects industries.

Callum enthusiastically took on this advice to participate in the open day and this is what he had to say to Skillset Youth Connect about his visit to AIE:

“The AIE Open Day was a really nice experience and quite informative. There were around twenty people in attendance so there were two groups that alternated between workshops. The workshops themselves were basic but provided a firm understanding about what the tasks in the course are about and what it’s like to study and work in such a field. They were also quite hands-on, getting us to use the industrial programs used in the making of games and the assets within them. Before we moved into the workshops we were introduced with a powerpoint slide showing us some statistics about the market: where and how fast it’s growing, the number of specialised fields of work there is. But the main thing that surprised me is how many companies both for games and VFX are based in or have hubs in Australia. And Australia has some pretty famous VFX companies that work with a lot of Marvel and high budget films.”

“After the introduction, the first workshop my group attended was 3D Art and Animation. They focused mainly on animation and showed a simple but effective video explaining how to bring life to an artificial object by using techniques that mimic the real movement and follows the laws of physics. We got to use a little bit of Maya which is the program currently used in the industry for animation and creating 3D models among some other uses. The task was the oldest trick in the animation playbook—animating a ball bouncing. What I enjoyed the most about doing this was actually learning some of the features and interface of the program itself.”

“About an hour after the first workshop, the group moved on to what I thought would be the least enjoyable workshop of the day: programming. But I have to say, I learned more about programming in the one-hour long workshop than all the multi-media and software development classes I ever did combine. The teacher was also brutally honest in saying that programmers don’t even know or remember all the special rules or specific commands but rather rely on the program tool-tips and interface to help them decide what the best function is for the job. The teacher also mentioned that the hardest time in coding will be when you’re just starting and eventually you’ll just learn all the syntaxes and jargon. During the workshop I also learned how developers start most of their days; they arrive at the office/studio log into an online application called Trello, which stores all the projects currently in the works, and the developers can pick and choose which tasks they want to complete.”

The application also functions like a pipeline that helps set tasks along and keeps everything organised. And that’s something I love in a workplace, a personalised schedule but also highly organised.

“Once that workshop was completed the staff ordered in Pizza which was super convenient because it meant nobody had to go around Sydney looking for food and all be back at the same time. It was also surprising as I’ve never seen as many teenagers without that typical “I’ll eat everything” appetite. So what the staff did was much appreciated!”

“After lunch, it was the VFX workshop which I found the most interesting. The main thing we learned was what compositing is. I would describe it as essentially removing or masking real objects and inserting computer-generated inserts (CGI). Our task was basically moving files into Adobe After Effects and compiling and layering them together to create a scene with physical footage but also some CGI and VFX elements such as a lens flare and an explosion. We also learned how to remove a green-screen which was neat. We didn’t get to use the industrial program which is called Nuke but the teacher demonstrated how it was different.”

“The final workshop was Game Design. This was probably one of the groups that had the most freedom to do what we wanted as we were given a 2D plat-former pre-set level in Unity and told to change it and make it our own; the purpose of which was to get others to playtest the level so we could see how another person experiences and approaches the level. The workshop was quite fun but my favourite aspect of it was seeing a game in-engine and how the very core of it is constructed and how all the different bits and pieces come together to create a product. Even though everything was already set up I could imagine the sheer fun of creating the assets for a game, compiling them in a format so that they can be accessed and placed inside the game engine, all the while coding the functionality of the pieces to create a game.”

“In the end, what impressed me the most about the whole day was the industry experience the teachers had and how effectively they conveyed that experience and knowledge from working in the industry. This experience looks like it’s carried over to the final products that students study there. I say this because some of the student’s works were absolutely phenomenal and must’ve taken hundreds if not a thousand or more hours creating. Just the amount of detail and functionality in some of the works were really up there in quality. It puts my year 12 project in the dumpster. But that’s a good thing as it shows the quality and degree of skill that students come out with. Taking a course there definitely something I’d like to do in the future when I have a bit more confidence that I could handle the work in terms of quantity and quality.”

If you would like to discover the career pathway to your dream job, get in touch with Skillset Workforce Youth Connect by calling: 1300 853 525, inbox us of Facebook, or email (eligibility criteria applies).

#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.