AITC young people on the road to success with the Frizelle Sunshine Automotive Group

Bryce Hutchins, 2021 AITC Graduate

Kaleb Drew (AITC Graduate), Brendan Dennett Staff Development Manager for the Frizelle Sunshine Automotive Group (Northern Division), Zara van Rijssen (AITC Graduate)

Young people with a passion for the automotive industry are happiest when actively problem-solving in the garage. They diagnose faults, dismantle and reassemble engines, repair defective parts and make sure everything is performing properly. That’s just on their own cars.

At the Australian Industry Trade College (AITC) we help industry connect with these dedicated young people. Young people who are keen to get a head-start in industry and work while they are studying. Industry partnerships, such as the one with the Frizelle Sunshine Automotive Group, offer a road to success. This road will lead to a school-based apprenticeship for those who work hard to develop a fulfilling career.

Work experience provides a great way for young people to find the perfect fit with a team in the automotive industry. Brendan Dennett, Staff Development Manager for the Frizelle Sunshine Automotive Group (Northern Division), says, “the student gets to see what we do and how we do it. It overcomes any doubts about the industry.”

There are several attributes Frizelle looks for in a young person before offering them an apprenticeship, “good presentation, good communication skills, the want to be in the industry, that’s where the work experience process comes in. Dedication is also important — finish what you start,” advises Brendan.

Brendan’s works in the Training Centre is heavily involved in the recruitment process. “I develop, train, mentor and set-up apprentices and trainees in the Frizelle Group. Currently we have 227 apprentices and trainees and we’re about 900 strong from Lismore to Springwood.”

Brendan started working with the AITC five years ago, “we’ve got 27 AITC graduates in our business now. The end goal is to develop them in a fantastic company. The joint relationship between us and the AITC is doing just that,” he says.

“The AITC student is a well-prepared student. They go through a series of processes. They go through training and development. They come well-presented and understand what it is that they are trying to achieve.”

AITC 2021 graduate, Bryce Hutchins, is a recent apprentice to Mazda. His brother inspired his move to the AITC to become a mechanic. “It’s a very helpful school to get into a trade and start your apprenticeship,” says Bryce.

Before his sign-up Bryce did work experience during his Industry Blocks. “Work experience helps you build your reputation and develop the skills you need for your trade.”

Work experience isn’t the only thing employers look for before a sign-up. “Your Year 12 QCE is important because employers look at how well you’ve been doing in school prior to getting signed-up,” explains Bryce.

Kaleb Drew, a second-year apprentice with Robina Volkswagen agrees, “Getting your QCE is important. It really looks good on a resume to show you’re educated. You don’t want to drop out and not get that certificate.”

After building numerous projects in his garage, Kaleb’s path seemed set, but he still tried all the trades he could at the AITC, “I tried all those great trades — bricklaying, electrical, plumbing but I really liked playing with cars and that’s what I do in my spare time at home.”

He did work experience for the entire three years at the AITC — from Year 10 to Year 12. “I went to almost every dealership we’ve got under the brand and Volkswagen is what was right for me.”

In the future Kaleb wants to start up his own business and eventually own a chain of mechanical workshops. He also knows it’s important to keep learning. “Technology is evolving. All the cars are computerised these days. My job is 75% computer work compared to what it used to be which was mechanical all day long.”

Kaleb says being a mechanic “feels amazing. I’m doing what I love and I’m progressing every day.”

Zara van Rijssen, also an apprentice mechanic working at Volkswagen Robina, is passionate about being a trailblazer in the industry, “I love being hands-on. I also want to encourage females to consider taking on this trade. Everyone should have a go!”

Success runs in Zara’s family — Zara’s brother (also an AITC graduate) is now a successful business owner and employs his own apprentices. “I thought doing the same thing would be awesome,” explains Zara.

“The AITC helped me find my apprenticeship and find who I wanted to work with. They helped boost my confidence and independence.”

Zara chose automotive for work experience and the first place she called was Volkswagen Robina, “I did work experience with them for about nine months and they signed me up,” she says.

“Work experience is so important. You need to get to know what the trade is about, the people you work with, the cars, the brands, just everything.”

She advises those starting out in the industry to “be confident. Have faith in yourself and keep pushing through.”


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