Partnership with FKG Group develops next generation of construction professionals

Andy Baxter, Senior Business Development Manager, with the FKG Group

The FKG Group welcomed an opportunity to partner with the Australian Industry Trade College (AITC) for a bespoke Year 10 work experience program. Initially derived from the Best Practice Principles initiative from the Queensland Government, the program helped over 20 young people participate in work experience across various disciplines and further their industry careers.

FKG was prompted to look at better ways of engaging with trainees and apprentices on their projects. Through that process they identified the AITC as a suitable partner based on location of the projects they were targeting, which included the Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast regions.

Andy Baxter, Senior Business Development Manager, with the FKG Group, works with a team of estimators, design managers, and a submissions team to identify and secure new projects for the business. “We made contact with the AITC to suggest a bespoke program for work experience for Year 10 students. The team were really helpful and made it easy to facilitate the program.”

His first point of contact at the AITC Sunshine Coast campus was experienced Industry Consultant Tony Quinn. “He was very forthcoming and welcomed the opportunity to partner with FKG to provide opportunities for the Year 10 program. The partnership would give students an opportunity to try different trades through major construction on a project in their own neighbourhood,” explains Andy.

“What struck me initially with the AITC was the flexibility and eagerness to develop a bespoke plan that worked for us. They followed that through, very organised, very structured, yet brought a personal touch to the process as well.”

Initially FKG held an introduction information session for over 40 AITC young people. “We invited expressions of interest, or job applications, from students.” Placements were offered to 12 young people on each of the projects — Baringa State Secondary College and Palmview State Special School — for a two-week block.

“From the day I did the introduction, students were polite, well mannered, well spoken, and keen. It was obvious the AITC ran a really good program. Students came up individually after the information session to thank us for the opportunity. They all presented very well, and very professionally, and I was impressed with the initial contact.”

Young people ranged in their interest in different trades from electrical, plumbing, carpentry, mechanical engineering and even diesel engineers. They spent the first week of work experience with the FKG team in various roles— from site managers to foreman, the safety managers to the contract administrators.” With exposure to the project and the site, the young people were then teamed with suitable trade partners. They spent their second week with sub-contractors following their interest, some trying one trade, others trying two or three areas of interest.

“AITC students turned up well prepped with what they needed to bring. There was never an issue with students turning up and not bringing PPE or at the wrong time or at the wrong location,” explains Andy. “They were organised and professional.”

Andy says there are many benefits of the program, “many of the work experience students have since secured apprenticeships with our sub-contractors after proving themselves. Not just with skills but with diligence, and their work ethic. That has now flowed into FKG engaging apprentices directly from the program as well.”

“To have the potential for them to roll into a formal apprenticeship, doing work experience, or if it’s an apprenticeship with us, or our sub-contractors, it’s developing the next generation of construction professionals.”

The next generation of industry professionals at the AITC also have a focus on obtaining their Year 12 certificate of education. “For a school-based apprentice to have the fall-back of a Year 12 certificate, as well as going on to a trade certificate, gives them a really well-rounded platform to enter the workforce.”


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