MEDIA RELEASE, 4 July 2019.
Thomas Mutimer is the fourth generation in his family to work at Esso’s Gippsland operations. The young apprentice is following in the footsteps of his father, Paul, his grandfather, Ron, who worked at the Barry Beach Marine Terminal, and his great-grandfather, who worked on the Glomar III drillship, to work for Esso.
The 18-year-old is doing a dual trade instrumentation and electrical apprenticeship with the natural gas producer that will take five years to complete.
Thomas is also one of the latest young Australians to begin an apprenticeship through WPC Group – a not for-profit community enterprise that is a leader in matching job seekers with meaningful work. WPC Group this week celebrates 35 years of training and supporting apprentices and trainees, with more than 15,500 graduating through its programs in this time.
Today, WPC Group employs and trains 720 apprentices and trainees through national programs in New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia and the Australian Capital Territory. It has won
national and state awards for its work and has built an extensive apprenticeship and employer partner program.
Through its philanthropic offshoot, the Skilling Australia Foundation, it has also helped more than 5,300 disadvantaged young people find work and a future career through free job-readiness programs, grants to help pay for tuition fees, and through merit-based scholarships.
“Our wide network allows us to match apprentices with our skilled mentors in a diverse range of occupations and workplaces,” says WPC Group’s CEO Nicholas Wyman.
“But we don’t just step back and leave employers to it. Our mentors visit workplaces to check with apprentices and supervisors on how it’s working for both sides. If anything’s getting in the way of longterm success, we’re there to help and steer things back on track. We are helping to equip young people with the skills they need for the 21st century workforce.”
WPC Group enjoys an impressive 84 per cent apprentice and trainee retention rate compared to a national average of just under 50 per cent.
Thomas is enjoying the benefits of WPC Group’s expertise and commitment. He is in the first year of his apprenticeship at Esso’s Long Island Point after his father Paul told him about an upcoming apprentice intake available through WPC Group.
Paul, who started his own career as an apprentice welder to an Esso contractor and is now an Esso operations supervisor, credits WPC Group’s apprenticeship approach for making that fourth generation possible.
Thomas says he has already learned a lot of new skills and he is fascinated by the complexities of the gas and oil industry.
“I’ve always been interested in all things electrical and I’m a hands-on learner,” says Thomas. “I did lots of electrical-based classes at school, and at home I was always building or making something.”
“It’s a big process to get gas and oil to cars and houses and making electricity for them,” he says.
Esso Australia is one of a number of heavyweight industry partners working with WPC Group to match apprentices and trainees with secure and stable jobs.
“We provide young people with a clear pathway to a trade qualification and provide employers with a cost-effective workforce development strategy which delivers youth employment retention rates significantly higher to the for-profit labour hire providers,” says Mr Wyman.
WPC Group works with employers like Esso, Mercedes-Benz, Toll Group, Nissan, Melbourne Water, Porsche, Qenos, and BMW to create employment pathways for young people.
For three and a half decades the WPC Group has been changing the lives of young Australians by engaging them in further education and meaningful careers.
Mr Wyman believes part of this success lies in the use of field-based mentors as a crucial connection for apprentices to not only land their jobs, but complete their training.
“The enduring resilience of our skills formation model is testament to the clear social and economic benefits group training provides to the community,” Mr Wyman says.
“Our approach has delivered results for three and a half decades and we, with our apprentices and employer partners, will keep delivering industry-leading programs to meet the challenges of a changing workforce.”