Mentoring is key to a successful apprenticeship according to Northam local training consultant Peter Lowen.
And it’s now more important than ever to encourage apprentices and trainees to successfully complete their qualification.
Born and raised in Northam, Peter regularly travels to Lancelin, South Cross, Lake Grace, Wagin and Perth.
His knowledge and understanding of the Wheatbelt and its community is a major plus when it comes to the mentoring process, as he takes into consideration peak periods such as seeding and harvesting, as well as unique community and training concerns that commonly arise within small Wheatbelt towns such as Northam.
With the Wheatbelt area covering 43 shires and having an estimated population of 75 000, the Northam labour force is a small proportion of that total, at 5500.
Last June, the unemployment rate was sitting at 5.2 per cent.
Peter feels that the town’s population and location makes mentoring even more valuable.
“I feel mentoring is as important as ever, to ensure apprentices don’t feel isolated,” he said.
And with only 34 per cent of Wheatbelt residents over 15 having post school qualifications it can often feel isolating being in the minority.
Providing mentoring support over the phone or in person could mean a workplace visit or somewhere more informal, such as Happy Days Café – one of Peter’s favourites.
“As a mentor, we aim for a win/win situation for all parties involved,” he said.
“We listen to both the employer and apprentice and offer third-party perspective and advice.
“By opening that communication pathway between employer and apprentice, we work towards obtaining the best resolution for everyone.”
Typically, Peter deals with many types of issues – anything from termination to housing.
“We usually discuss topics such as accessing a mentor, the termination process and the employer-apprenticeship relationship,” he said.
“This can include anything from communication breakdowns, work attitude, workplace expectations and financial stress to living arrangements.
“Mentors are here to help both parties in facilitating the contract agreement, so that apprentices can reach the end of their apprenticeship successfully.
“They will have access to a mentoring team that they can reach out to for advice and support.
“Nothing is shared with the employer.
“All remains confidential.
“Often the expectations that the employer has for the apprentice or trainee do not match up with the apprentice’s.”
Mentoring services being kept confidential is especially important in Northam, Peter said.
“It’s important for businesses and individuals living in a small Wheatbelt town…as confirming a small rumour may be detrimental to both an apprentice seeking employment and a business retaining clients in a small community.”
If you have any questions about apprenticeships, traineeships and training options in your business and community, please phone Peter Lowen on 0418 910 113.
Peter is the Northam based training consultant for Apprenticeship Support Australia.
CCIs Apprenticeship Support Australia is a State-wide Australian Apprenticeship Support Network Provider, an Australian Government initiative.