Industry links brings jobs to youth

One of Australia’s largest producers of quality building products is also one of St Patrick’s Technical College’s strongest industry allies.

Stratco has taken seven StPatsTech students for apprenticeships in the past five years and one of its senior executives was so impressed with the College he now sits on the StPatsTech College Board as a director.

Michael Olszewski manages Stratco SA’s trade sales and oversees its rigorous apprenticeship program and has been with the company for 30 years.

“Five years ago we were looking for apprentices and we were not getting the quality so I started ringing around high schools in the Northern area and I contacted StPatsTech,’’ Mr Olszewski said.

“I went and did a presentation and we opened the work place up to the College’s work experience program. As a result of that we were able to identify some really good students.’’

Mr Olszewski said the StPatsTech board is industry-focussed, which means the College is able to better prepare students to meet employer needs.

Mr Olszewski said Stratco has a rigorous screening program to ensure the right person is in the right apprenticeship. This includes work experience blocks, aptitude testing, physical tests, medical reviews and a probationary period of employment.

“Before we sign anyone up we will offer them part-time employment to give us a chance to watch them. We are looking at things like work ethic, enthusiasm, punctuality, cleanliness and social skills. Most of our apprentices do come from StPats because of the quality of the students in showing these skills,’’ Mr Olszewski said.

“Most of our apprentices are from StPatsTech because of the preparation done at the College for the students to enter the workforce. Those work ready skills are often what gets the StPatsTech students over the line.

“And we as a company invest a lot of time and money into our staff so we hope they will be loyal to us in return.’’

Mr Olszewski said the close working relationship between Stratco and StPatsTech had resulted in positive outcomes for the six apprentices.

Kjel Lillie – SbAT 2017

Kjel

Keen to get straight into the workforce after graduating high school, 19-year-old Kjel Lillie knew he wanted to secure an apprenticeship.

Originally interested in plumbing, he soon realised it “wasn’t my cup of tea” and a stint at Stratco as part of StPatsTech’s extensive work experience program helped Kjel focus on his career path.

“I came here for work experience, I liked all the people here and the atmosphere,’’ Kjel said.

“I wanted to go straight into the workforce and I didn’t want to go to university and get a big HECS debt. I wanted to get an apprenticeship and knew I couldn’t do that at my old high school, so I switched to StPatsTech.

“At the end of my work experience time with Stratco, through StPatsTech, they offered me an apprenticeship and I was more than happy to take it.’’

Graduating Year 12 with his SACE in 2016, Kjel began his apprenticeship at the start of 2017 and says he loves the work.

“They are great to work for, all the bosses are really friendly. It’s definitely the best job I’ve ever had.’’

The feeling is mutual with Mr Olszewski describing Kjel as one of the best apprentices the company had seen.

“He’s reliable, honest and his attitude and work ethic is something the production managers have not seen before,’’ Mr Olszewski said.

Jacob Prescott – SbAT 2013

Jacob

In 2011 Jacob Prescott knew he wanted to become a tradesman and saw St Patrick’s Technical College as his best pathway into an apprenticeship.

Then an up-and-coming footballer, Jacob was the recipient of the Central Districts Football Club scholarship to StPatsTech. Although a shoulder injury derailed his promising football career, Jacob has landed on his feet after securing an apprenticeship with Stratco. While his football injury impacted on his work, Stratco could see the potential in Jacob and have supported him through his apprenticeship.

Jacob said the company offered him the opportunity to move into the business-side of the trade by becoming an estimator. Using his trade knowledge, Jacob’s role is customer-based, providing quotes for material, supply and installation of Stratco’s products.

He said one of the best things about the company was the positive working environment.

Jacob was recently promoted as the Head Estimator for Stratco’s Alice Springs store and has begun a traineeship in sales.