Filling the skills gap

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Updated: March 17, 2016

Productivity Bootcamp gets young people work ready by arming them with foundation skills to enter the Infrastructure industry 

A chronic shortage of trained construction workers and a high level of youth unemployment in Sydney’s west prompted business owner Paul Breen to do something about it.

After selling his labour hire business Paul set up an organisation called “Productivity Bootcamp” that seeks to boost productivity and efficiency in the construction industry. The organisation trains school leavers and young unemployed people in the basic skills and site safety to a level where they are able to support qualified tradesman on building sites.

The ex-construction manager is passionate about developing people, personally funding the project that is focused on a new training style to tap into the aspirations of the young generation. He is taking his message to the youth of Western Sydney by participating in the Diesel Dirt & Turf Expo being held in Penrith in April.

“Many young people have not had positive role models, motivation or appropriate career guidance. Some have had drug-related issues or have been bullied at school. The construction industry remains very short of workers, with an estimated additional 300,000 needed over the next decade”, Paul said.

“In parts of Western Sydney youth unemployment has doubled in the last five years, while in some areas one in five school leavers don’t have a job. Our students gain exposure to different trades in a simulated worksite to help them find their own strengths to choose the right career path, which will help reduce the fifty per cent dropout rate in apprenticeships.

‘Productivity Bootcamp’ runs for eight weeks where trainees learning enough to get them ready for infrastructure projects. They learn skills in formwork, steel, concrete and general groundworks. Although this program is based around infrastructure, training offers much more- safety, injury prevention, attitude and work ethic, communication skills, dealing with different personalities, punctuality and nutrition– all of which affect labour productivity in every industry.

While trainees are spending most of the time with tools, they are also building valuable life skills. After eight weeks, trainees are awarded a certificate marking their achievement. For many, this is their first recognition of achievement.

On completion, graduates are offered paid employment with Paul’s labour hire organisation, ‘Productivity Force’ so they can turn their training into a career.

“Productivity Force is a company that takes the trainees who are interested in the industry and who have been assessed as competent to work on-site. With infrastructure being a high risk environment, Bootcamp is ideal to test their attitude and competency. Those who are unable to handle the rigours of the industry will be placed in employment that’s more suitable for them.

“Our aim is to demonstrate to the industry a more effective way to train and motivate this young generation while making the industry an attractive career choice,” Paul said.

Part of the profits from Productivity Force are directed back into Productivity Bootcamp so  trainees are not burdened with debt and are able to focus on their training.

‘Productivity Bootcamp’ has a stand at the “Diesel Dirt and Turf Expo” , a free event being held over three action-packed days on the picturesque lakeside grounds and in the pavilion of the Penrith Panthers Club between Friday April 15 and Sunday April 17.