This is sponsored content for VERTO.
Auto body repair business owner Andrew Morcom knows from personal experience the challenges many industries are experiencing in attracting young people into apprenticeships and then retaining them.
Mr Morcom had been searching for an apprentice to join his busy family business, Ray Morcom's, for more than two years before being able to offer the opportunity to 16-year-old Braiden Lowe late last year.
"It's a very big challenge trying to attract young people into this industry and into an apprenticeship, and then to keep them motivated, and enthusiastic," said Mr Morcom.
"You have to work very hard to help them keep their eye on the bigger picture and get them to their four years.
"That's the biggest obstacle for a business with apprentices, managing the apprentice, helping and supporting them so that they keep going and progressing."
To meet this challenge, Mr Morcom is partnering with VERTO, a not-for-profit organisation that provides a range of government-funded services to help both employers who want to take on apprentices, as well as young people looking for apprenticeships or traineeships.
With more than 16 years' experience in providing Australian apprenticeship services, VERTO was also recently selected by the Federal Government as one of only four agencies in New South Wales to provide Australian Apprenticeship Support Network (AASN) services from 2020 to 2022.
VERTO's appointment comes as the Australian Government launches a new and improved AASN program as part of its push to boost Australian apprenticeship rates in response to the downward trend in the sector.
Mr Morcom said VERTO had provided invaluable support for him as well as for Braiden by guiding them through the apprenticeship program, helping with paperwork, advising them about the latest changes and opportunities, and offering ongoing mentoring assistance.
"When I decided I was going to put on an apprentice I went straight to VERTO because they just work so well with the kids. They are another door the apprentice can go to if they have any issues about anything at all - they have a neutral party to go to, only a phone call away," Mr Morcom said. "Maria, the VERTO consultant who works with us, relates to the apprentices so well.
"They organise everything that needs to be done and that's a big factor for me too because ours is a very busy business. It's a real time saver for me. Anything we need to know we just contact them. It makes it very easy to put an apprentice on."
VERTO Chief Executive Officer, Ron Maxwell, said the new and improved AASN program - which came into effect on February 1, 2020 - offered even greater assistance to make it easier for employers to find, train and retain quality apprentices at a time when apprenticeship rates continue to fall.
"Statistics show apprenticeship rates dropped by 0.9 per cent from March 2018 to 2019. This is at a time when youth unemployment is at around 11.7 per cent nationally - more than double the general employment rate," Mr Maxwell said.
"These concerning statistics demonstrate a need for concerted focus on the vocational education and training sector now more than ever.
"The new AASN program is designed to give Australian apprentices and employers all the support they need from commencement right through to completion at no cost.
"VERTO's aim is to continue to be a one-stop-shop for apprentices and employers, helping with everything from job matching, advice about training options, and personalised mentoring for at-risk apprentices, to facilitating paper work associated with employer incentives and Trade Support Loans."
VERTO is a community owned, not-for-profit organisation delivering a range of apprenticeship, community support, employment and training services to assist individuals, employers and industries. They can be found in over 40 locations across New South Wales, Victoria, and the ACT. To find out more about the Australian Apprenticeship Support Network, head to the VERTO website.
This is sponsored content for VERTO.