September 4, 2016
With unemployment amongst the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) population at 16%, nearly three times the national unemployment rate of 5.8% (August 2016), Marist Youth Care developed an innovative social enterprise solution. In January 2015, they established professional painting and decorating service MYC Painting to focus exclusively on employing ATSI apprentices under 21 years.
To kick-start the enterprise, MYC needed to develop two crucial relationships to ensure sustainable supply and demand for the service, the first of which was with a Master painter who could ensure MYC Painting delivered work to a commercial standard.
Marist Youth Care worked with an industry expert who was looking for the right opportunity to leverage his expertise to run a commercially viable social enterprise that would create employment for marginalised communities.
“The next step was to identify an organisation (customer) that would benefit from such a service, have the ability to commit to a large volume of work to sustain the enterprise, and value the employment of at-risk job seekers,” said Adam Makepeace, Senior Manager of Employment and Training Services at Marist Youth Care
MYC soon identified their second major partnership opportunity with Programmed Facility Management, the holder of the NSW Community Housing Maintenance contract in Western Sydney.
“Programmed had a desire and a commitment to increase the Indigenous participation in their workforce and amongst their subcontractors,” says Makepeace.
With these two partnerships in hand, MYC was able to create a sustainable process to provide a 26 week skills training program for ATSI youth and develop a pipeline of Indigenous painting apprentices.
Each MYC trainee apprentice works alongside a Master Painter who supervises them on commercial projects that can range from community housing maintenance, residential and commercial painting, colour and design consultations, wallpaper application, graffiti removal and artistic murals. Through this process, they are able to fulfil all first year painting apprenticeship requirements.
“Our supervisors have a challenging job of balancing commercial obligations, providing ongoing skill training, and supporting apprentices through regular personal and family challenges that can be encountered,” Makepeace continues, “but they get a huge thrill knowing they have been an integral part of a young person’s journey from unemployment to confident and skilled apprentice in just 6 months.”
Throughout their time with MYC Painting, each apprentice also works with an Aboriginal Employment Caseworker who assists with transitioning them into commercial painting firms to complete their apprenticeship once their training with MYC Painting is complete.
After their first year of operation, ten apprentices have successfully worked through the MYC Painting program with 75% continuing onto commercial employment.
“We see significant improvement in their routine, reliability and understanding of workplace behaviours and expectations,” says Makepeace, “Apprentices begin to take pride in their work and their employment status, reinforcing the value of a job and its impact on their health, wellbeing and relationships with others. Apprentices leave our program armed with resilience and the ability to cope with challenges that lay ahead.”
From this solid base, in 2017 MYC Painting is looking to diversify and offer a second trade, expand into Brisbane and Melbourne and to increase the number of apprenticeship places per year to support even more ATSI youth into employment.
“We have a significant pipeline of high profile work and expect to continue on our growth trajectory,” says Makepeace, “As the enterprise matures further, subtle changes will be made to the operating model to encourage the retention of some apprentices into leadership roles within the business.”