When it comes to employing an apprentice the struggle is very real.

Finding one is hard enough but keeping one is even tougher.

Get a good apprentice and they will be swimming in lucrative job offers before their trade is even completed.

Get a bad apprentice and the time wasted can be frustrating but the long term damage to the business can be even worse.

The one upside to employing an apprentice in NSW is that they have been 'fee-free' since July 1, 2018.

The state government will pay up to $2,000 in upfront fees just to get the ball rolling. It's the kind of financial support that can make or break someone's future.

Employers have told me repeatedly about the high costs involved in supporting an apprentice, this is particularly true for a small business.

Thankfully in NSW the financial incentives continue through to the end of the apprenticeship including $1,500 after six months, $2,500 upon completion of the trade and an additional payment after 12 months if your apprentice is over the age of 21.

I am assuming there are similar incentives in other states – if not, why not? They are certainly necessary. Its this kind of support that can really make a difference.

Interest in trades is at an all-time low with 50% of school leavers unaware of the apprenticeship option, according to the NSW government.

School leavers today blindly head to university unaware of all the opportunities available to them and this certainly extends to any jobs related to refrigeration and air conditioning. I mean how many school leavers make refrigeration and air conditioning their first career choice? Only a lucky few.

The good news is that RAC organisations and industry bodies are working hard to change this and to raise awareness about the benefits of this exciting trade.

Admittedly, its a huge task and there is still a lot to do. But it will happen. Hell I even have a few grand plans of my own that I cannot reveal just yet (stay tuned). In fact, CCN is rolling out a number of worthwhile programs this year to alleviate 'the struggle'.

But first we are gearing up to launch the HVACR Leadership Awards which is only a few weeks away so get ready to nominate. It’s time to focus on all that is good.

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