By Frederick Maddern, Chairman of WPC Group.
As the chair of WPC Group, I continue to be amazed by the talent accessing – and flourishing through – our job-readiness programs. And our incredible partnerships help us further help young Australians: through scholarships and fee relief, our partnerships enable us to provide extraordinary experiences for our skilled apprentices.
One such partnership is with Lei Shing Hong (LSH) Auto Australia, with whom we’ve forged one of Australia’s most dynamic and innovative apprenticeship programs. Nationally, more than 70 WPC apprentices are plying their trade at LSH Mercedes-Benz dealerships.
Since 2016, these apprentices have been receiving the annual International Scholarship which is organised through our non-profit affiliate the Future Gen Foundation.
In February 2020, we’ll see three WPC Group automotive apprentices travel to the USA where they’ll visit several Mercedes-Benz dealerships – a great opportunity to see first-hand how things are done in another country.
Our scholarships support more than the automotive sector. Through our various scholarships our apprentices have benefited from domestic and international travel as well as grants of up to $3,000 to help purchase tools of the trade.
Further, Future Gen Foundation runs our highly coveted pre-apprenticeship training courses. These programs are ideal for young people experiencing hardship and disadvantage – whether, for example, because of family circumstances or long-term unemployment.
It’s especially challenging for young adults to find their feet. On average, young people take 2.6 years to move from full-time education to full-time work. (In the 1980’s, when WPC started operations, it took only one year.) And yet, for many jobs, employers complain there’s too few if any suitable candidates when they go looking for fresh talent.
Did you know that almost one in eight young Australians (15-24) are unemployed – 11.6% of the population – that’s more than double the general unemployment rate? In areas where the general community is experiencing disadvantage, the youth unemployment rate is higher – one in five.
Shocking as that is to read, these figures tend to understate the problem as they do not include people who have disengaged and are not in employment or the education and training system.
In stark contrast, nine out of 10 apprentices who complete their training are employed – they’re wanted and they’re needed.
Maybe it’s time to reconsider what an apprenticeship program can do for you?
It makes no sense for young people to be languishing for more than two years, struggling to find full-time work – a wasted opportunity. But if they can earn, learn and upskill with the times, well, now that makes a lot of sense.