Parliamentary Secretary for the Illawarra Gareth Ward has praised a landmark training partnership between TAFE NSW and three business heavyweights that aims to provide a smooth workplace transition for young recruits.

The innovative Trade Readiness program sees new apprentices and cadets from BlueScope, Snowy Hydro and Peabody Energy put through an intensive eight-week foundation course with TAFE NSW, which covers everything from metal fabrication to money management.

Mr Ward said that the course enabled the new recruits to “hit the ground running” and saved the companies considerable time and expense in making the employees workplace ready.

“By the time these apprentices get on site, they’re safe, know how to use a lot of the machinery and can interpret schematics,” he said.

“It’s a wonderful example of how TAFE NSW, the nation’s largest training provider, can help make some of our region’s largest employers even more efficient.”

Mr Ward said the course was perfectly calibrated for the modern workplace, with a strong emphasis on safety.

“The focus is on metal fabrication and welding, but the students will also touch on some electrical and high-risk environment training,” he said.

“During the eight weeks, students will also cover safe driving, bully management and money management.

“The program is continually updated to meet the specific needs of each business, which is most heartening.

“The NSW Government, through TAFE NSW, is proud to be involved in a program that supports such valuable employers and helps drive our economies,” Mr Ward said.

BlueScope’s Maintenance Improvement Manager Peter O’Brien said the program had helped provide a seamless on-boarding process for new apprentices, especially in the area of workplace safety.

“Safety is our number one priority at BlueScope – it’s fundamental to the way we approach our business and apprenticeships,” Mr O’Brien said.

“TAFE NSW has taken this on board, ensuring our young apprentices get off on the right foot, with an emphasis on safety at all times.

“We’ve developed a strong relationship with TAFE and as a result they have a good understanding of our requirements.”

Mr O’Brien said the program also helped apprentices hone their technical skills.

“Our apprentices are fortunate to have this opportunity to develop some fundamental skills and knowledge before they start working on our plant,” he said.

“It also means we’re not putting extra pressure on our own tradespeople to get the apprentices up to that level, they’ve already got some skills and knowledge behind them when they start,” Mr O’Brien said.