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Figures support trainee scheme

A NEW traineeship scheme aimed at giving indigenous students a boost in the job stakes has managed a retention rate of 80 per cent and a pass rate of 60 per cent, making it one of the more successful training models in recent years.

The Aboriginal School Based Traineeship Program is managed by the WA Department of Training (WADOT) and is supported by the State and Federal education departments, the Department of Workplace Relations, and ATSIC.

The program has been embraced by mining giant BHP-Billiton, which is planning to work with dozens of indigenous families in the Pilbara each year to improve their employment prospects.

WADOT spokesman Antony Harvey told Business News the program involved about 42 students across WA.

“The program supports them from school into the workforce, and secondly it actually attracts some kids back because it gives them a different option,” Mr Harvey said.

“The program has been well supported because it’s hit the mark of where a lot of indigenous students want to learn and participate in the mainstream system.”

He said the program was something that more businesses should look at.

“All of the students have a mentor who can assist them with personal issues and issues involving the workplace and the coordinating bodies,” Mr Harvey said.

BHP-Billiton has extended the program to its own scheme, called the Port Hedland Education Partnership, which was signed this week (December 17) by the company, Commonwealth Department of Education Science & Training, the WA Department of Education and the Polly Farmer Foundation, which will manage the project until 2005.

BHP-Billiton Manager of Aboriginal Affairs, Louis Warren, said one of the obstacles to indigenous people achieving employment opportunities is their educational standard and their job entry skills, numeracy and literacy being one aspect of that.

“There needs to be a multi-faceted approach to creating indigenous employment, and one of those is apprenticeships and traineeships, and BHP-Billiton invests a lot of resources in maintaining that program,” Mr Warren said.

“BHP aims to be in the Pilbara for a long time and the company has a long-term interest in the people in the areas where it works.”

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