Innovation in Action: Apprenticeship Program in Regional Australia Goes Digital

What is the Apprenticeship Pilot Program?

Australia is facing a nationwide problem of apprentice retention due to several reasons, such as wellbeing and mental health issues, lack of personal leadership, and a clash in values between employees and organisations. Our rapidly changing world of work requires young people to not only have technical skills, but ‘soft’ skills, such as positive communication, to thrive in their employment. 

Last year, Youth Opportunities embarked on an exciting new journey, delivering an adaptation of our long-standing Personal Leadership Program to apprentices, in partnership with the GFG Group in Whyalla, Edward John Eyre High School and Samaritan College.  

The program was developed as a pilot to assist GFG Alliance, an organisation that sought our help, to increase rates of retention for their new apprentices.

The Apprenticeship Pilot Program focuses on developing leadership and enterprise skills, and creating habits and attitudes that will increase success within apprentices’ placement. Students explore obstacles they may encounter during their first year of employment, and then identify how to successfully navigate through them as critical thinkers.  

Some of the apprentices we are working with are in their final year of school. We have worked with Edward John Eyre High School to ensure our program complements their studies, and students gain 20 State 2 SACE points upon completion.

During the program, there are a number of industry professionals who will provide mentor support to the apprentices, using real life workplace examples.

Unlike our traditional Personal Leadership Program, the blended Apprenticeship Program model will run for an entire year, reinforcing program concepts and giving students the skills to thrive in their apprenticeship – a whole year of support and personal leadership development!

How has COVID-19 impacted this new program?

Due to COVID-19, the Apprenticeship Pilot Program has moved online, instead of through in-person support.

A full day of training was delivered to 18 GFG Alliance apprentices in a virtual classroom – for the very first time in Youth Opportunities’ history!

In a very short period of time, our team turned the last three days of term one’s program into an online platform, having a virtual classroom of 18 apprentices using Zoom video conferencing. We completed a blended model of virtual group discussions with learning completed using Youth Opportunities online only program, Thrive Online, which was a great success.  

It was great to see all the apprentices pick it up very quickly and have fun with the online platforms. They learned how to change their backgrounds, mute themselves, and were active participants during group facilitation. The online modules created great discussion points to reference afterwards within the group and deepened their knowledge of the topic.

And, while we did face some initial IT teething issues, we are looking forward to smoothing out the bumps and refining our new virtual model to deliver great outcomes to the apprentices in the year ahead!  

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