A new Queensland Government initiative that incentivises employers to take on school-based apprentices will open up greater opportunities for thousands of young Queenslanders. The new plan was announced recently by Premier Campbell Newman, and Education, Training and Employment Minister John-Paul Langbroek.

According to Mr Newman, addressing skill shortages is vital for Queensland’s economic prosperity, and the Can-Do LNP Government’s strong plan is doing just that through a range of targeted training initiatives.

The School to Trade Pathway incentive encourages employers to take on a school-based apprentice and retain them in a full-time apprenticeship after they finish school. While thousands of jobs are already being created under the present Government, the new initiative will help improve employment prospects for students, giving them a brighter future.

Mr Langbroek said the School to Trade Pathway incentive would benefit apprentices, employers, and Queensland as a whole.

He explained that the plan translates into more opportunities for students to enter a full-time apprenticeship directly after school, gaining hands-on experience, and training with an employer, which would lead to a career or perhaps even a business of their own one day.

Member for Cook David Kempton said the initiative provided extra support for local employers to grow their business and share their knowledge and skills with the next generation of tradies. Mr Kempton added that it means more apprentices and talented tradesmen and women, a better skilled workforce, and a greater pool of talent to grow the state’s burgeoning economy.

Mareeba State High School Principal Jo Soothill said school-based apprenticeships offered students a variety of benefits. Since most jobs now require a Year 12 standard of literacy and numeracy, the school-based apprenticeship would allow students to start work on a trade while still being able to complete senior high school. Additionally, by the time they’ve finished school, they’ve already knocked a year off their apprenticeship.

Mareeba resident Jack Portelli recently graduated from Mareeba State High School and began as a full-time apprentice last week at Harvest Mareeba, where he had worked during his school-based apprenticeship.

He is undertaking a Certificate III (Engineering Mechanical Trade) where he will maintain cutters during the sugarcane harvesting season and rebuild the machines in the off-season. Happy to have started working full time at Harvest Mareeba as it allowed him to have a good job in his hometown, Jack advises other young people considering a school-based apprenticeship in 2015 to ‘just go for it’ as it will get them off to a great start and provide real focus and direction.

Veronica Luhrs from mining and quarrying company Redcorp said school-based apprentices came into industry with a higher level of skills than most other school graduates.