Hundreds of local apprentices and trainees get their First Start

Minister for Employment and Small Business and Minister for Training and Skills Development The Honourable Di Farmer

The Palaszczuk Government is helping to get 400 more council apprentices and trainees across Queensland their first start in a job, thanks to a $6 million investment through Skilling Queenslanders for Work (SQW).

Visiting Winton Shire Council, Minister for Training and Skills Development Di Farmer said SQW’s First Start program was part of an ongoing commitment to support training pathways and employment opportunities in local communities.

“This next phase supports 60 local councils and a statutory authority to employ the extra apprentices and trainees,” Ms Farmer said.

“Given the hit that COVID-19 has had on our economy, these 400 positions are even more valuable to their communities this year.

“More than half of this year’s positions are with councils outside of south-east Queensland, including 10 Aboriginal councils and two more in the Torres Strait.

“The Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ) manages the process with councils to ensure funding from First Start goes to areas where it will have the biggest impact.

“Local councils deliver a range of vital services that rely on skilled workers and through First Start we have been supporting them to recruit trainees and apprentices since 2016.

The Minister said that, to date, the program has seen more than 1600 people get a start with these important local employers.

Minister Farmer met with Winton Shire Council’s current First Start trainees and two former First Start trainees who have secured permanent jobs with the council’s child care centre.

“Since 2015-16 the State Government has invested $165,000 in the First Start program with Winton Shire Council,” Ms Farmer said.

Mayor of Winton Shire Council Gavin Baskett said that the investment goes a long way in supporting the Winton community.

“This funding has helped the Council put on 10 apprentices and trainees over the last 6 years,” Mr Baskett said.

“First Start supports people to get into council offices, libraries, workshops, parks and other sites to start learning, working and delivering services in their communities.

“The funding covers a range of traineeships or the first year for apprenticeships in needed trades.

“Each council handles the recruitment for their positions and chooses the qualifications they need to add to their workforce. Many First Start trainees will already be on the job or starting soon, which will be a promising step for them, their families and new colleagues.”

LGAQ CEO Greg Hallam said the First Start program had made an immense difference to Queensland communities with councils able to offer training across more than 240 occupational areas.

“Not only does the First Start program provide trainees and apprentices with invaluable skills but it also allows young people to continue to live and work in their local communities by providing them with opportunities they would otherwise have to travel to find,” Mr Hallam said.

“This then allows councils to more easily draw from the local workforce for work that would otherwise be contracted out, providing an ongoing economic boost to their regions.

“Experience has shown the majority of these apprentices and trainees have gone on to obtain permanent employment either prior to or at the end of their traineeship with the remaining few generally pursuing further training or higher education.”

Up to 31 March 2021, 35,883 people have found jobs thanks to participating in a Skilling Queenslanders for Work project or traineeship.

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