Training and Apprenticeships

Recruiting Indigenous Trainees for a Major Highway Upgrade


In 2010 SKILLED engaged with multiple contractors to supply labour for a major highway upgrade project in Northern New South Wales. SKILLED provided approximately 90 labourers to support the project and also managed the recruitment and selection process for Indigenous trainees.

The Challenge

A major consideration for the project was to ensure respect for Traditional Land Owners through engagement with local Indigenous groups as the works were being carried out on Indigenous land. Project teams needed to liaise with Cultural Heritage Monitors and provide avenues to give back to the local Indigenous community. Providing Indigenous traineeships was one of the ways SKILLED helped our client to give back to the Indigenous community by supporting long term employment.

The Solution

Recruits were initially sourced through the local Salvation Army Employment Plus branch from database searches.  SKILLED provided the key criteria to be met by applicants, for example, being a resident of the local area and holding a current drivers licence.

Shortlisted applicants were passed on to SKILLED for written aptitude testing which was completed in the presence of an Indigenous mentor from the Salvation Army. At all times it was critical that SKILLED worked closely with the mentor to ensure applicants had the best possible chance of understanding what was required of them.

Applicants participated in a face-to-face interview managed by SKILLED and a number were then taken on as casual employees for 3 months with a view to assessing their performance and suitability for a traineeship after this time. 99% of applicants successfully transitioned to a full time traineeship.

SKILLED supported trainees during the signup process. A standard SKILLED OHS and company induction was provided to trainees on Day 1 prior to commencing work on site. Trainees commenced work in March 2010 and August 2010 with staggered starts, completing their traineeships a year later.

SKILLED personnel conducted safety talks every second day on site with formal weekly toolbox meetings. As part of the safety talks program SKILLED managed award safety recognition programs which awarded Rugby League tickets to trainees and personnel in recognition of their safety achievements.

The written component of each trainee’s study was provided on site with a TAFE representative providing teaching to the whole group of Indigenous trainees at the same time.

SKILLED conducted performance reviews of trainees every three months working closely with our Client and the Indigenous mentor.

Performance reviews were conducted by the Apprenticeship Field Officer from SKILLED, SKILLED Site Manager and the Project Supervisor and helped to ensure that trainees were adhering to work and OHS requirements and keeping up with theoretical based work.

The Results

Completion rates were high with six of our civil construction trainees – approximately 50% – offered full time positions with a Client after completing their traineeships. Four out of the five administration trainees also secured full-time work.

One SKILLED’s trainee was nominated for a Best Indigenous Trainee Award managed in conjunction with the local TAFE and Government in the Far North Coast region. 

Read more case studies about SKILLED Apprenticeships, Traineeships and Training.