Job skills kept local


SARA Borrett and Tim Wilson may not think there is anything special about them, but in a time when skilled workers are on the decline they are considered a rarity.

Both locals to Coffs Harbour, Sara, 18, and Tim, 19, are among our newest trainees making a welcome addition to the region's much depleted bank of skilled workers.

Both have been down that much travelled, and frustrating, path of not getting a job due to lack of experience and not getting the needed experience without a job, before Solace Coffs Harbour came to their rescue.

A few months have passed since Sara and Tim began their traineeships at Solace and things couldn't be looking brighter.

Understanding the serious skills shortage the region and nation is facing, Solace have employed trainees since first opening their doors for business.

Manager Tim Merrick said as finding skilled workers was becoming a harder task as the years went by, they knew they had to buck the trend from within.

"Instead of sourcing workers from out of town, we decided we would rather train local people, kick-starting their careers and helping increase the local skilled workforce," Mr Merrick said.

With her main love being performance cars, Sara Borrett's goal was to find a career that involved working in the car industry.

She tried unsuccessfully to get an apprenticeship as a mechanic, but found success at Solace, training as a window tinter.

Her training will not stop there, with part-owner Karen Merrick saying not only will Sara be able to tint cars and houses, she will be able to apply car protection products as well as gain knowledge in 4WD accessories.

Just like Sara, Tim's main love is cars.

Following a four-month stint as a labourer, he went looking for a job that offered variety and the potential of a career, finding what he was looking for at Solace.

Along with trainees like Sara and Tim, 2005 looks set to reverse the skills shortage trend with both education institutions such as TAFE and the State Government recognising that something needs to be done now.

Reasons for the current shortage have been varied, ranging from an increase in people going to university instead of TAFE, to lack of government support.

In an attempt to build the skilled workforce back up, the Government has injected $1.3 billion into TAFE for trade orientated courses.

Director of North Coast Institute of TAFE, Mr Neil Black, said it was clear that extra funding needed to be injected in order to help deal with the shortage.

Coffs Harbour and Clarence Valley communities have been offered seven extra courses designed for people seeking a trade apprenticeship or other employment in industries where there are skill shortages.

Campuses in Coffs Harbour, Macksville, Grafton and Trenayr are enrolling students now, and although the traditional trade courses are usually filled quickly, people are advised to contact the campus to discuss their needs in these trade areas, as flexible delivery is always an option.

With classes just going back this week, it is too early to know exact numbers in these courses, but the word is it's looking good.

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