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Industry heavyweights benefit from new TAFE Queensland apprenticeships

Queensland's recreational vehicle repair and manufacturing industries are benefitting greatly from TAFE Queensland's industry-specific apprenticeships.

One year on from TAFE Queensland’s introduction of two new recreational vehicle apprenticeship courses with brand new purpose-built facilities, Queensland heavyweights of the recreational vehicle industry are benefitting greatly from upskilling their workforce.

Caravan Repair Centre is one of the largest employers in the South-East Queensland recreational vehicle repair sector and currently has five employees enrolled in the Certificate III in Recreational Vehicle Service and Repair (MSM31015) at TAFE Queensland. This is in addition to three workers who have already graduated the course through Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) in the past year.

Company Director Renee Flynn was emphatic in her support of the new apprenticeship qualifications, praising TAFE Queensland for its ability to work with industry and design courses to help the booming recreational vehicle industry continue to flourish in Queensland for years to come.

“The industry really needed to have a standard across the board and have that quality assurance for consumers that we’ve actually got an industry supported qualification and industry standards in manufacturing and repairs,” Ms Flynn said.

Ms Flynn believed the new apprenticeship course would be a game-changer for her business’ recruitment strategy moving forward, “I think the new qualification covers all the bases that we need for our industry. It’s really hard to put a specialist fabrication worker on when there’s not enough fabrication work in the trade, and that applies to other trades too. To have someone that has the components out of different trades that we need, that’s what we will be seeking moving forward.”

Ms Flynn has found TAFE Queensland’s teaching modes have helped significantly with the strain of putting on numerous apprentices at once, with much of her employees’ learning taking place on site at the business, “we do some on-site training and other units that they can’t do on-site they go down to the Acacia Ridge campus and do the training there. It has been about 30 per cent on campus and the rest in the workplace which has worked out really well for us,” Ms Flynn said.

The workplace training is carried out by a specialist TAFE Queensland teacher who attends the business premises, “he’s coming out every two weeks – so we do a two week block – and he is here for about 4 hours which for the business has worked out a lot better than losing the workers for large amounts of time to do big blocks,” Ms Flynn explained.

Caravan Repair Centre are eager to communicate with customers that their service staff are trained through TAFE Queensland in an industry-specific apprenticeship, feeling that it makes their business more trusted to be trained with TAFE Queensland.

“It is something we are going to start pushing quite heavily through our newsletters and marketing,” Ms Flynn said, “there is unfortunately a bit of a tainted view throughout the industry when it comes to workmanship and it will be nice to change that tune for customers.”

While they don’t work in the manufacturing sector, Caravan Repair Centre still feel the effects of consumer distrust in the industry driven by a lack of standard practices, something which they believe will be alleviated by training staff with TAFE Queensland.

“There is a lot of anxiety when it comes to people that have had poor experiences from the manufacturing sector who then expect the same from the repair industry,” Ms Flynn said, “so it will be nice to give them assurance that everybody is accredited and we are moving with an industry standard expectation of quality.”

As a major player in the recreational vehicle industry located on the Sunshine Coast, Caravan Repair Centre complete a wide variety of work outside of caravans and believe that they can continue to grow their customer base by enrolling their staff in the new TAFE Queensland apprenticeships.

“We see a lot of fifth wheelers, horse floats, busses, and we do a lot of commercial vehicles. We have a really wide variety of recreational vehicles that we deal with,” Ms Flynn said, “that’s also what the qualification has done; for me as an employer I’ve actually broadened the scope of work for the staff because they’re working in different components of the industry. It has actually widened what their capacity is.”

Ms Flynn confirmed that enrolling staff in TAFE Queensland industry-specific apprenticeships is part of the business’ long-term staffing plan, “we’ve got 14 production staff and that’s growing month to month. It’s hard to find people who are qualified or have experience in our industry so our push is definitely in getting apprentices on board and getting them the training through TAFE Queensland and through on-site training. That’s going to be a big part of our on-boarding in coming years.”

Caravan Repair Centre are setting the benchmark for businesses in the recreational vehicle industry by committing to training their staff in industry-specific qualifications with TAFE Queensland and are reaping the rewards from doing so. Their hope is that other members of the industry take on apprentices in the new qualifications to bring a high standard to the industry state-wide.

Company Director Renee Flynn Like many in their industry, Caravan Repair Centre have been at their busiest in the past few years.