Apprentice push to fight region's skills shortage
A MACKAY hydraulics business will take on the biggest intake of apprentices in its history in an effort to circumvent the region's damaging skills shortage.
D&T Hydraulics and Engineering business development manager Kevin Webb said it was an exciting time for the business, which would practically double its number of apprentices with this intake.
In less than 40 years the business has grown from a one-man operation to a 24-hour hydraulics hub with about 80 staff.
"We used to put one (apprentice) a year on, so we would have a maximum of four apprentices in the building at once,” he said.
"Now we're building in numbers. We went from one a year, to two a year, to five last year.”
Last month, Mackay's unemployment rate sat at 5.3 per cent. Mr Webb said D&T had felt the pressure of the region's skills shortage for about two years.
"It has been getting progressively more and more difficult over the past two years,” he said.
"I've had ads (for skilled workers) running now for two or three months and I've had one applicant.
"We are hoping to train and address the skills shortage. What we are doing with the apprentices, it's not a short-term answer, but we are looking to the future.”
Mr Webb said the company's strategy was to put more time into training, with the plan to eventually have 20 apprentices in the workshop.
"There is a skills shortage and (we are) trying to give that (training back) and hopefully we will get something back from that in years to come,” he said.
"You can't put them on now and expect to get something tomorrow. It is a long-term strategy.
"It is a strategy for us to help bring more people into the industry and help the business have people.”
Mr Webb believes the responsibility of training people to avoid a paralysing shortage of skilled workers falls on the industry.
"We all whinge about the skills shortage. If everybody is doing their part and training I think that would relieve the problem,” he said.
"We basically stand behind that and we are doing that.”
Are you or is anyone you know looking for an apprenticeship? Contact D&T Hydraulics and Engineering today.