The Skilling Queenslanders for Work First Start program will see councils employ 400 new apprentices and trainees across the state in industries that include heavy vehicle mechanics, engineering and electrical trades.
A total of 66 local governments will share in $6 million to offer 12-month traineeships for young Queenslanders and disadvantaged jobseekers.
“As we continue to grow our economy, investing in skills and training will help even more Queenslanders find the right job,” said Minister for Training and Skills Development Di Farmer.
“Skilling Queenslanders for Work is one of the most successful programs of its kind in the country, with 73 per cent of participants finding work or taking on further training around 12 months after exiting the program.
“First Start leverages the range of valuable services provided by councils to create training opportunities that lead to decent, secure jobs and stronger council workforces.
“Each day, they are contributing to the services, equipment, and facilities that their friends, families and colleagues rely on, all the while gaining a nationally-recognised qualification.”
Farmer says that since First Start was reintroduced in 2015, over $35 million has gone towards providing training and employment opportunities for 2500 trainees in Queensland.
Councils are responsible for recruiting their allocated places and can choose which qualifications they want to develop in their workforces.
Member for Mundingburra Les Walker said Townsville City Council will use $270,000 from the First Start program to recruit 18 apprentices and trainees.
“First Start has already supported 138 locals into apprenticeships and traineeships so far, and with these 18 new positions, we pass the 150 mark,” he said.
Deputy Mayor Mark Molachino added, “At a time when skills shortages are impacting a number of industries, it’s never been more important for public and private sector employers to take on apprentices and trainees.
“By taking on apprentices and trainees, council is ensuring these people can develop the skills, knowledge and on-the-job experience they need in their chosen area.
“Once they complete their training, they will be ready for full-time jobs either with council, other employers or perhaps even starting their own business.”
Apprentice Abi Winter is currently completing a Certificate IV in Engineering with the council, after completing her Certificate III in February.
In 2020, she was named Engineering Apprentice of the Year at the TAFE Excellence Awards and was a finalist for the Harry Hauenschild Apprentice of the Year NQ at the Queensland Training Awards.
“Doing my apprenticeship with council has given me the opportunity to learn new skills and get experience working in a variety of areas,” Winter said.
“It’s been a great start to my career and I can’t wait to see where my qualifications will take me next.”
The Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ) manages the application, assessment and allocation process for the First Start program.
“Providing young people the chance to do traineeships and apprenticeships through the First Start program lets them continue to live and work in their communities while teaching them invaluable skills,” said LGAQ CEO Alison Smith.
“It gives an economic boost to the councils as well, letting them draw from a skilled local workforce, rather than contracting out.
“Most of these trainees and apprentices go on to secure permanent employment at their end of their traineeship or even before they finish, with the remaining few often pursuing higher education or further training.”