Building hope and jobs for unemployed

Tumut’s Megan Considine learns the finer points of the trades at a unique TAFE NSW course.

A unique project aimed at empowering unemployed Tumut residents to break the cycle of joblessness has swung into action.

 The pre-apprenticeship construction skill set, a six-week program delivered at Tumut TAFE campus, is the result of a partnership between Squad Employment and Training, Tumut Hospital construction contractor Richard Crookes Constructions, and TAFE NSW. 

It is the first time such a course has been offered to Tumut residents and it aims to give the class of 12 practical skills and experience in a range of trades. A similar TAFE NSW course at Wagga Base Hospital last year saw 17 out of the 24 participants gain jobs with sub-contractors at the hospital site.

TAFE NSW Construction Teacher Daniel Sweeney said it was gratifying to see the Tumut students build their skills – and confidence – throughout the course.

“Some of these students have been in trouble in the past or had a tough upbringing, but they’ve all come in with a positive attitude,” Mr Sweeney said.

“This is about giving them real practical skills and experience, and it really could change the direction of some of their lives.”

As part of the course, students learn a host of practical trade skills at TAFE NSW Tumut such as concreting, electrical and plumbing, before spending the final week working with sub-contractors at the new Tumut Hospital site.

Richard Crookes Constructions project manager at Tumut Hospital, Ross Williams, said the initiative aligned to one of the company’s core philosophies.

“Richard Crookes Constructions is focused on making a difference in regional communities and supporting local industry engagement,” he said. “Practical courses like this Pre-Apprenticeship Construction Skill Set are a great way to upskill residents whilst giving them access to a range of opportunities within the industry.”

Tumut mum of two Megan Considine is one of two women completing the course and said she hoped it would help build a foundation for a career in carpentry.

“I’d worked in retail, youth work, and as a domestic violence support officer in the past and I wanted to try something new,” she said. “I like the idea that you can create something for other people that actually moves and changes as you make it.

“The teacher Daniel has been amazing; he’s so flexible to my needs and explains everything so well.”

The NSW Government committed $50 million to rebuild the Tumut Hospital in 2018, with work commencing this year.