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On-The-Job Experience For Certificate II in Construction Students

At Sarah Constructions, we’re serious about our role in training and developing South Australia’s future construction workers and leaders. Terry Kildea, Senior Project Manager, recently wrote about our Whyalla Student Immersion Program, which provides work experience to Year 10 and 11 students from Edward John Eyre High School.

Sarah is continuing our involvement in the SA Immersion Program, with Year 11/12 Aboriginal students at Murray Bridge High School (MBHS). The program includes a unique Live Works component, providing students invaluable on site work experience and opportunity to participate in practical work with Sarah subcontractors.

Live Works: Adding Hands-on Experience

Supported by the Department for Innovation and Skills and the Department for Education, Sarah Constructions developed Live Works as part of the Cert II in Construction delivered at MBHS by Carey Training. The unique Live Works aspect of the program evolved to provide Aboriginal students with on-the-job experience, as well as a sense of ownership over the works taking place at their school.

MBHS principal Ruth Mussger acknowledges the difference the live works component is making to the young adults involved. “To see the excitement and pride in their work, and hear them talk about career pathways in construction beyond school makes all the difference. This is a game changer for families and the community.”

Participating students can achieve SACE results whilst gaining industry accreditation for their work. In this way, Vocational Education and Training (VET) allows students to experience the world of work in a range of occupations whilst still at school.

Charles Totani, Human Resources Business Partner at Sarah Constructions, believes programs like this are the best way to boost traineeships and apprenticeships in SA.  “We see this as investing back into an industry that currently has a very big skills shortage. This program provides the students with exposure to the construction industry, and an opportunity to appreciate it’s broad range of rewarding career paths, which will in turn, strengthen the industry.”

“Live Works provides actual and practical experience, helping to shape students’ career decisions while also providing potential job opportunities. The direct work with subcontractors helps them build relationships and connects them with potential employers.”

Project Manager, Nik Panagaris, agrees that the program gives students a valuable step up into their careers. “It’s a great mechanism that assists with the transition post-schooling. Students gain their first aid certificate and white cards while they’re still studying, which gives them an advantage once they actually finish school.”

The Cert II in Construction involves a mix of both construction theory and practical. To support the practical aspect, Sarah delineated an area and exclusion zone adjacent the main MBHS construction site separating an existing shed structure from the main site; enabling the students to safely participate in the practical live works project. Students were also provided with a safety pack and project induction, covering essential safety processes to educate them in the required conditions prior to commencing the works on site.

Engaging with the Aboriginal Community

Aboriginal students were identified by MBHS for the program, to support their education journey. Local civil subcontractors were selected to be involved for their ability to provide long term, future opportunities for the students.

Sarah Constructions received commitment from over 7 subcontractors, who expressed interest in being involved with the program. These subcontractors have the potential to provide apprenticeship and traineeship opportunities for students upon completion of their Cert II qualification.

The Live Works component has played a key role in the success of the Cert II in Construction Program at MBHS. Though not part of his usual project management activities, Nik Panagaris has seen first-hand how well students are responding to the program. “It has been incredibly rewarding to pass on knowledge and experience to the students. It’s great to see them keen to learn and eager to be involved”.

“Hopefully, we can see the students grow even further in the future via a traineeship or apprenticeship with a subcontractor.”

Facilitating more Pathways into Construction

As a business Sarah proactively supports the many pathways into the construction industry. Craig Webber, Construction Trainer/Assessor at Carey Training, who is facilitating the training at MBHS, has been involved with the Cert II in Construction for 10 years. Craig sees Live Works as the next logical step to enhance the program.

“It helps students put actual context to what they’re learning. The theory makes sense to them once it’s put into practice. Plus, across the program the students get 9 days on site; it’s almost like a 9 day interview and a real opportunity for both contractor and student to get to know each other.”

“With VET programs like this, students can move into earning income sooner, which is really important for so many South Australians and their families. It’s about connecting willing individuals of any age and background, to job opportunities.” 

The Live Works program provides MBHS students the chance to have in-depth, on-the-job experience, while setting a precedent and creating a useful framework for the industry. Sarah Constructions has invested significant time and money in making this program successful because we believe increasing programs like this throughout South Australia is critical to the ongoing success of construction in our state.

This program aligns with Sarah’s approach to strengthen the industry by highlighting the various employment opportunities available for the workers of tomorrow.

To find out more about the Murray Bridge High School project, or a career at Sarah Constructions, contact the team today.

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