Building Skills For The Future With Nvc Precast

During the COVID-19 pandemic, NVC Precast has been on-boarding apprentices providing employment opportunities to the local community at a much-needed time.

Based in Kilmore, Victoria which is home to 8,000 people, NVC Precast is one of the town’s largest employers.

When the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic hit, many businesses in the area were forced to close or scale back operations.

As part of the essential construction industry, with additional safety and social distancing measures in place, NVC Precast continued to operate and even grow to meet demand.

With projects such as the Victorian Level Crossing Removals and the Moggs Creek Bridge on the Great Ocean Road still pushing ahead, the company is very busy.

In addition to operations staff, NVC Precast has been able to hire three new apprentices to help the wider team with works, providing employment opportunities to the people of living in the area.

Brett Harrison, Precast Manager at NVC Precast, says the apprentices will have an opportunity to gain hands on experience when working on some of the company’s projects such as the North West Alliance rail upgrade at Bell Street, Moreland Road in Coburg and the Werribee Street Level Crossing Removal.

“For the rail upgrade project in Coburg we are supplying L Beams, Crossheads, T Beams and planks, so there is a lot to learn,” Mr. Harrison says.

“There are a vast number of learning opportunities for the apprentices, the main skill is welding. We have a requirement to weld reinforcements as part of the design for rail. They will specifically be welding cages for electrical conductivity as well as other activities that we do within the business.”

Mr. Harrison says the three apprentices are at varying levels of education, one is a first year, one a third year and the last is a fourth year, and the fabrication division of the company offers a variety of different activities for the apprentices to learn.

He says working within a team of boilermakers they are being mentored by a number of experienced tradesmen and are exposed to a variety of learnings from one off engineering to ongoing production fabrication activities.

NVC Precast has enough work to see the apprentices finish their trade.

At NVC Precast apprentices are taught how to work from drawings to mark out the works, to plan the order of assembly, to identify the different types of welds, such as fillet and butt welds, to suit the structural requirements, materials and processes. Prior to undertaking the structural welds, the apprentices are tested to the Australian Standards criteria.   

“Our first-year apprentice, Mr. Keating started around four months ago and he is settling in very well. The other apprentices started a couple of months ago and are already enquiring about the possibility of continuing work at NVC Precast, which is really positive for us,” he says.

NVC Precast worked with Atel recruitment to employ two of the apprentices who will be performing fabrication, welding and other tasks to help with the day to day output of NVC Precast.

Kellie Howard, Atel CEO, says the company is aware the construction industry is doing relatively well during the pandemic and being able to reach out to businesses like NVC Precast to find employment opportunities for their apprentices is important.

“NVC Precast are such a large-scale employer providing the apprentices an array of experience in steel fabrication and welding for the precast concrete manufacture. They will be able to deploy any knowledge they already have through their TAFE course and apply that to different environments,” Ms. Howard says.

“With a business like NVC they will be exposed to so many different opportunities which I think will be very valuable to them.”

Both apprentices employed through Atel have now relocated near or within the town of Kilmore to complete their apprenticeships for NVC Precast.

“For the apprentices to view the area as somewhere they can see their future, that is great to see. The current economic climate is the perfect time for businesses to have a look at what they need and how they could support the growth of young people,” Ms. Howard says.

At NVC Precast apprentices are taught many different skills.

NVC Precast also worked closely with MEGT to ensure the success of their apprentices, so that they could get on the right track to achieving qualifications all while contributing to NVC Precast’s productivity.

Liliana Musolino, Field Operations Manager at MEGT, says some businesses face challenges attracting highly skilled workers and it is important apprentices are regarded as an option in those areas.

“Our view is that apprenticeship or traineeship pathways should be available to all employers of all sizes and jobseekers regardless of their location,” Ms. Musolino says.

“We aim to grow apprenticeships in regional areas, and elsewhere, as some of the apprentices we sign go on to eventually create their own business and employ apprentices of the next generation.”

She says it is important vocational training is recognised in all areas as a viable means of gaining knowledge while being employed.

“These opportunities make sure those who are skilled remain in their areas and have the opportunity to remain there and in the future do the same in turn for someone else,” Ms. Musolino says.

Mr. Keating, one of the apprentices, is working with NVC to gain Certificate Three in Engineering and upon completion of the apprenticeship he will hold a nationally recognised qualification.

“I am loving it, I used to work here as a labourer, so I know the place, it’s a good one and the environment is great to work in,” Mr. Keating says.

“I’m really happy about the job because it is secure for the next few years and it is close to home.”

Mr. Harrison says it’s really about what the future holds for the apprentices. He says NVC Precast has enough work to see these apprentices finish their trade and then it is about the opportunities they decide to take.

“Once they have completed the apprenticeship, the world is their oyster really. It’s all up to what they want to achieve.”