A growing number of leading plumbers are taking on female apprentices, Kathryn Kernohan finds out why.
Plumbco Plumbers found cost savings and flexibility the top two advantages of group training apprentices. Kate Jones Reports.
Hiring an apprentice used to be a more complicated task for Troy and Audra Morris at Plumbco Plumbers. From the time-consuming recruitment process through to the ongoing training requirements, the Morris’ knew there had to be an easier way.
They trialled the Master Plumbers group training scheme and found it took the hassle and expensive costs out of hiring apprentices.
The Port Melbourne-based company now relies solely on the scheme for all its apprentice hiring.
“We don’t hire any of our apprentices directly anymore, we only hire through the Master Plumbers,” Audra explains.
“The benefit is Master Plumbers controls the paperwork that needs to go through to get the apprentices through schooling and communicate with their training organisation. Also, they pay their school fees.”
How does it work?
Master Plumbers is a Group Training Organisation (GTO) that employs apprentices through its Plumbing Apprenticeships Victoria (PAV). As part of the GTO, Master Plumbers finds host employers who can give apprentices opportunities to work while also building their skills.
Any Victorian plumbing business can become a host employer. Hiring apprentices through Master Plumbers is fast, flexible and cost-effective.
When compared to hiring an apprentice independently, the cost savings are significant. Thanks to the costs paid by Master Plumbers, including trade school fees and superannuation, businesses can save more than $19,000 on first year adult apprentices and $7000 on first year junior domestic apprentices. Master Plumbers also supplies tools and protective clothing to its apprentices and meets payroll tax obligations.
For businesses like Plumbco, it all means a massive savings when compared to the traditional way of hiring apprentices.
“It’s cost effective because if you hire directly and say you’ve got a fourth year apprentice who still needs to go to school, they cost you more than a plumber because their wages are quite high and you’ve got to take out the weeks they’re at school and divide that by how many weeks they’re at work,” Audra says.
Host employers also stand to reap $4000 in government incentives. Plumbing apprentices attract an Additional Identified Skills Shortage payment paid directly to host employers who keep an individual apprentice throughout their apprenticeship. The employer receives $2000 at the end of the first year and $2000 at completion.
Red tape reduction
The reduction of paperwork is a big win for host employers. Not only does Master Plumbers manage the recruitment of apprentices and the associated costs such as advertising, it manages and distributes wages, allowances, superannuation, workers compensation, sick pay, annual leave and other employment benefits.
Host employers also don’t need to worry about contracts or training agreements. “It cuts out all of the hassle of recruitment, onboarding and contract administration,” explains Natalie Reynolds, Master Plumbers General Manager Business Development and Operations.
Fast and flexible
Importantly for employers called upon to start jobs quickly, apprentices and qualified staff can be hired in 24 hours.
“When plumbers find themselves in the ebbs and flows of work, they can get jobs given to them at the last minute and be expected to make an almost immediate start,” Natalie says.
“The use of quality labour hire, whether it be for apprentices or qualified staff, can be a flexible solution.
“Our staff are highly skilled and motivated. They are ready and willing to work.”
Benefits for apprentices too
Master Plumbers employs 150 apprentices it can loan to host employers for short or long term periods. The apprentices have a varying degree of experience, from first year to fourth year, with a broad array of skills.
In a win-win for employers and apprentices, Master Plumbers Apprentices benefit from work placements in a variety of plumbing streams, including water, sanitary, drainage, mechanical services, roofing and gas.
Third-year apprentice Max King began his GTO experience at Master Plumbers by working with a maintenance plumbing company for 14 months.
“I learned a hell of a lot in my time there, but I wanted to do more,” he says.
“So I went to my field officer with Master Plumbers and he put me with Plumbco Plumbers, doing commercial work. I’ve loved the work with Master Plumbers, they help you learn as much as you can.”
For second-year apprentice, Simon Indirinella, constant on the job learning is a huge bonus.
“There’s a lot of perks to it because you’re always learning and you learn a lot more with MP than you do with ordinary little companies,” he says.
For more information about the Master Plumbers GTO please call 9329 9622 or visit plumber.com.au/labour-hire