Within two years Jess Hollard has gone from a trainee to running Wannon Water’s waste and treatment plants.
Jess, 20, works in water treatment, a role he wouldn’t have come across without Westvic Staffing Solutions’ 200 jobs in 100 days campaign.
He completed certificate II in water treatment operations and works across Wannon Water’s various water and waste plants in Warrnambool and Port Fairy, testing and maintaining the water quality.
“It’s very interesting,” Jess said. “Every day you’re learning new things and it’s challenging when you go on standby on the weekends especially because you’re the only fella. There’s someone (available) on the phone but you’ll find a lot of the stuff you learn is when you’re on standby.”
Westvic field officer Anthony Smith said Jess had gone from working under supervision to working autonomously in a short amount of time.
“He’s gone from being a trainee to basically running this place,” Mr Smith said. “It’s a massive step.”
Jess is now completing Certificate III and wants to continue his career with the organisation.
“It’s an example of where a traineeship can lead in to ongoing employment,” Mr Smith said. “A lot of young people take a gap year and do a traineeship. In Jess’ case it demonstrates that there is pathways from traineeships into ongoing employment with the same employer.
“A lot of young guys who don’t want to go to uni generally chase traditional trades – carpentry plumbing, electrical (yet) this role here is something you wouldn’t have known existed.”
This year’s campaign was launched on November 27 and so far 100 residents have gained apprenticeships or traineeships as part of the innovative campaign.
Westvic chief executive officer Dean Luciani is confident of placing people into 200 jobs by March.
He said the secret to the unique program’s success was a sense of community here that “you don’t see in other demographics.”
Mr Luciani said there was a strong social responsibility in the business sector to provide opportunities and training was unlike anything he’d seen in other Victorian regions.
When the project started with a drive to create 100 jobs in 100 days, youth unemployment in the region was as high as 16 per cent.
The latest figures showed youth unemployment had fallen to 7.5 per cent.
Positions last between 12 and 48 months and cover dozens of trades and vocations.
Mr Luciani said there had been great anticipation in the lead up to this year’s campaign due to an increased community awareness. He said school leavers and those deferring from university joined to gain apprenticeships and traineeships and it was a great opportunity to enter employment.
“The majority of the roles we’ve created have been in hard trades – cabinet making, plumbing, electrical, carpentry, but we’ve also seen a lot of business administration and finance roles created in the traineeship area which are really important,” he said.
“They offer a lot of young ladies an opportunity to do a traineeship for a year or two before going onto university or establishing themselves in a business or finance career through a traineeship.”
He said the roles were in local council and large organisations as well as the bulk which came from small to medium-sized businesses.
“The support’s been amazing again this year. We created this about four years ago to squeeze about 10 per cent out of the market and over the last four years we’ve been able to double our target.
“There’s opportunities that have been created as part of this campaign that otherwise wouldn't exist and that’s where you see young people leaving regional areas. For us to be able to create those opportunities locally is really critical for youth retention and skill development.
He said a big part of its success was that it relied on “good quality young people” who wanted a career and people, including mums and dads running small businesses, who were willing to invest and prepared to give people a go. “They're investing in future skills and our future workforce.”
He advised anyone looking for employment or a change of career, regardless of age, to contact Westvic Staffing Solutions.
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