CCF Victoria has welcomed the first group of apprentices embarking on exciting new careers in civil construction, following the official launch of the Pathways program for women and First Nations workforce participants.

The program is specifically aimed at job seekers and career changers who have historically faced significant barriers to entry in what is generally considered to be a male-dominated industry.

Participants are trained in a range of areas including site induction, cultural preparedness and life skills before completing a Certificate III in Civil Construction Apprenticeship through a work-based placement with an employer.

“Obviously, we’re working in a very male-dominated industry (but) we believe the more people that are in the room, the more perspective you have and the more diverse your workforce is,” Ashlea Murphy, a supervisor at Abergeldie Complex Infrastructure, one of the first employer partners to hire Pathways apprentices, said.

“The past experience of the candidates … is really going to carry over and work well in our industry because it is a very customer-focused role.”

A key point of difference with Pathways is the support provided to employers to help them create the right working conditions and environments to ensure their new apprentices settle in effectively.

“There is a place for women in civil construction and it’s an exciting place and it’s one full of opportunity for women in the community,” Shaun Hudson, HR Manager – Operations at Rokon, which has taken on six of the first 12 apprentices following the launch day event.

“We’ve been very proactive in the last eight years, engaging with First Nations people and women within the business already.

“We want to be someone who’s providing opportunities for employees, especially women in the sector.”

The Victorian Government grant-funded initiative will establish a pipeline of 120 new ‘Job Safe, Job Ready’ participants in civil construction careers over the first 12 months.

“By providing value-add program modules addressing cultural preparedness, employee readiness, peer-to-peer buddy and ‘Coach-on-call’ services, Pathways will inject not only a new wave of talent into the workforce but commence the reshaping of the cultural posture of workplaces with its strong support programs for employers and supervisors,” said Lyndal Ellement, CCF Vic’s Executive Manager – Training, Service Delivery and Performance.

“The program is truly a first of its kind.”

Pathways will be run by CCF Vic’s Registered Training Organisation, Civil Train, in conjunction with program partners Protech, Country Elders and Ripple Affect, with program evaluation by RMIT.