Budding cabinet maker Catherina Willemsen has signed up for an apprenticeship in Brisbane with the help of BUSY At Work and the federal government’s Kickstart program.
The 18-year-old has now started a cabinet making course with Renowned Furniture, a Cooper Plains-based firm that offers services in wood carving, custom-made furniture, antique restoration and gold gilding.
And while cabinet making and construction in general may be considered male-dominated industries, Catherina claims she has long had a passion for carpentry.
She said: “I’ve always liked working with wood, so signing up for a cabinet making course seemed like just the right thing for me.”
Catherina officially signed up yesterday (January 22), but she had been working for the company for a few weeks prior to this.
The apprenticeship is part of the government’s Kickstart scheme, which aims to sign up 21,000 construction apprentices by February, with participating employers receiving financial incentives for people they take on.
Emma Bingham, administrator at Renowned Furniture, said the company was keen to expand and Catherina’s skills and pro-activeness impressed them.
“Catherina came in one day and she’d obviously been looking around for furniture courses,” Emma explained. “She provided her resume and some photos of things she had done and the managing director thought [an apprenticeship] was a good idea.”
However, with little knowledge of how to get started and what the process involved, Emma said the company was thankful to BUSY At Work for providing essential help and guidance.
“They were really good,” she explained. “When I first phoned them, they allocated someone in the area to help us.”
Michelle Covele, industry training consultant at BUSY At Work, was on-hand to provide information on the financial side, as well as guidance with the various forms involved and any other questions or problems.
Emma added: “Michelle came and walked us through it. We didn’t really know what to do, but she basically just handled everything – all of the paperwork and funding opportunities.”
According to Michelle, BUSY At Work makes every effort to try and put employers at ease when they take on apprentices – especially companies like Renowned Furniture, where it was their first apprentice.
“Businesses need to know there’s a whole range of support out there, not just funding, and that’s where BUSY comes in,” she said.
“It is a great example of how businesses can utilise Australian Apprenticeships, support young people and show their commitment to the local community.”
BUSY At Work is involved with all parties during the sign-up process, including the apprentices themselves – making sure their course is going well and they are happy with their progress.
Catherina said she is enjoying her time at Renowned Furniture and outlined where BUSY At Work provided her with the most guidance.
“BUSY helped me with all the forms and told me about the funding that was available from different areas,” she said, including money for tools needed to do the job.
Michelle said it is important that apprentices are given the support they need to succeed, and not simply left to their own devices.
“We have contact with them at six months, when we go to the workplace to see how it’s all going, as well as at 12 months,” she added.
Asked what advice she would give to businesses considering taking on an apprentice, Michelle’s recommendation was simple – “Do it!”
“Give it a go! It’s helping your business and giving someone a start that they may not have had otherwise.”
Catherina said she is now looking ahead to completing her apprenticeship, having won over the support of her family.
“Initially, mum wasn’t too sure but now she is proud of me!”