Tomorrow’s tradies are enjoying the best of both worlds with Ai Group and St Patrick’s Technical College in Adelaide teaming up to make school-based apprenticeships a success. 

The blended model of learning allows students to finish high school while working and learning a trade, a path that girls are finding increasingly attractive and parents are supporting wholeheartedly. 

Of four St Patrick’s Technical College students starting apprenticeships with Ai Group’s Apprentice and Trainee Centre (ATC) this month, three are female. 

Jayne Shortt, Apprentice and Trainee Manager at St Patrick’s Technical College, said school-based apprenticeships were a win for all. 

“It’s pretty amazing,” she said. 

“Our students like it, the parents like it. By the time our students are ready to go full-time, they have a really good grounding in their field and formal education behind them. 

“Parents love the fact their kids can still get their SACE (South Australian Certificate of Education) and that they have continued support from us. 

“Going into an apprenticeship can be tricky for some people. You have a lot to learn, and you are in the workplace. The College supports them with all of this. 

“Everyone is wrapping their arms and resources around these young people to make sure they are successful. We’re in their camp. Ai Group is in their camp. Their host employers are in their camp.  

“They say it takes a village to raise a child – it's using that model.” 

Ms Shortt said students were fortunate to gain apprenticeships with Ai Group. 

“What I really appreciate about The Australian Industry Group Apprentice and Trainee Centre (ATC) is that the employers they represent have excellent reputations,” she said. 

“A lot of them are international companies and are employers of choice.  

“We’ve been able to work together to make sure everyone understands the structure and how it all works so they can best support our young people. 

“As a technical college, we need to make sure we have the GTO’s support as we rely on them to employ our students. Forging these relationships is important.  

“Likewise, they need to be confident that we can send them the right candidates that they are looking for."  

Ms Shortt said it was an exciting time for the girls starting their apprenticeships with Ai Group ATC this month. 

They include Kyla Dellar (pictured above with Ai Group ATC Employment and Training Consultant Shawn Matthews at host company Toolcraft) and Megan McAloney (also pictured with Shawn, at host company JCV Tooling, below).

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“It’s fantastic because they are going into non-traditional trades for women — Engineering Mechanical — which is the old fitting and turning qualification,” she said. 

“Two of the girls are in Year 11 this year and they will be on a journey for the next two years with the College and Ai Group ATC so that’s a really good partnership. 

“It shows they can break the mould; they can step into these non-traditional trades for women and still be supported and be successful. It’s 2022; girls can do anything.” 

Although the number of girls at St Patrick’s Technical College is small, their impact is big. 

“Our school is just over 10 per cent female so our girls make a significant choice to come here, knowing there are only going to be 20 or 30 other girls,” Ms Shortt said. 

“But they stand out. Employers tell me that women in trades have a different focus and attention to detail.  

“They’re shining out there, not because they're women, just because they’re good. They can do what the boys can do. They’ve chosen the College because they want a pathway in a non-traditional field as well as getting a head start.” 

Tony Ricketts, the Apprentice and Trainee Centre’s State Manager SA, NT and WA, praised the work being done by St Patrick’s Technical College to prepare students for apprenticeships. 

“They are a valuable partnership to us and we want that to continue to grow,” Mr Ricketts said. 

“The students get access to our vacancies and being the largest engineering GTO in Adelaide with multiple trade choices, we are a major source of employment opportunities for students from that school. 

“They are good people to deal with. Jayne is very professional, and we wish there were more of them.” 

Their students are also impressive, ATC Recruitment Consultant Ashleigh Goldsmith added. 

“St Patrick’s is an excellent technical college,” Ms Goldsmith said. 

“They provide high quality and high calibre candidates. They’re extremely supportive with the school-based traineeship and apprenticeship option. 

“For example, they often invite me to do mock interviews and to meet the students before they even finish school so we can start working with them before the end of the year.

“Having that consistency with St Patrick’s fosters the relationship and the trust between the college, the GTO and the candidate and their families. These students are mostly under 18 so having the family involved is important.” 

Ms Goldsmith encouraged high school students and their parents to reach out to Ai Group ATC to find out more about school-based traineeships and apprenticeships. 

“They really do offer the best of both worlds,” she said. 

“Some students might not be ready to leave school and leave their friends. They like that social aspect of going to school. However, those same students want to learn practical skills, gain a trade and make some money.  

“It’s good for them to be able to have that balance and enter the workforce but also complete school and get their SACE Certificate. 

“It’s an option that some people don’t know exists, but it’s becoming more and more popular.” 

Ai Group Apprentice and Trainee Centre offers school-based and full-time apprenticeships with an engineering focus. Dedicated recruitment consultants attend trade and high schools to meet students, discuss opportunities and offer skills such as interview practice. Click here to find out more.

Wendy Larter

Wendy Larter is the Senior Content Writer at Ai Group. She is a journalist with more than 20 years’ experience as a reporter, features writer, contributor and sub-editor for newspapers and magazines including The Courier-Mail in Brisbane and Metro, News of the World, The Times and Elle in the UK.