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Working hard to combat the skills shortage

Contact Group’s Hobart based Apprentices for 2023.

Over the past two decades, Contact Group has made a significant contribution to the skills base in Tasmania’s electrical industry, putting 280 people through training and apprenticeships since 2003.

According to data from Skills Tasmania, 143 people have completed apprenticeships and diplomas at Contact Group in that time, with around 280 apprentices and trainees commencing work since 2003, an average of 14 each year.

Last year the company took onboard a record 15 new apprentices, including five female apprentices and this year eight new apprentices have already commenced work.

Contact Group’s Managing Director, Wade Fromberg, said it was important to train the next generation of technicians and industry professionals.

“With the amount of work coming up in the electrical sector in Tasmania, it’s vital to have the skilled technicians to undertake and complete the work,” he said.

“There’s already a skills shortage within the industry, so we’re doing all we can to upskill our workforce and hire as many new apprentices as we can manage.”

Wade said every time Contact Group advertises for apprentices the company is inundated with applications.

“I think a big part of that is due to Contact Group’s size and scale, our apprentices have diverse exposure in the electrical industry.”

“It’s a broad industry; from domestic housing electrics all the way up to High Voltage, Audio-Visual, Data and Communications, Fire Protection, Renewable Energy, Maintenance and Construction- we cover it all, and our apprentices have the ability to experience all of those disciplines within their apprenticeship.”

“This means that by the time they finish, they have a really good idea of what area they want to specialise in,” he said.

Eight new Apprentices have commenced work at Contact Group, so far this year.

Contact Group has not just trained people in electrical apprenticeships, but also refrigeration and mechanical plumbing apprenticeships, and has ensured all existing staff are offered professional development.

“We do a lot of Certificate II, Certificate III and IV training within our existing staff from Project Management to Communications and Data to IT and Cyber Security, Occupational Health and Safety, and HV Transformer Commissioning and Testing.”

Wade said Professional Development is a strong focus because Contact wants to give existing staff as many opportunities as possible to develop and grow, and for the company to stay relevant in an ever-changing electrical landscape.

“We want our employees to have a point of difference from the competition and show existing staff that they’re valued and there’s opportunities for continued growth within the company.”

A number of staff who started as apprentices have remained with the company since they commenced work, including Contact Group’s Audio-Visual Manager, Andrew Otley, based in the company’s Launceston branch.

 

Contact Group’s state AV Manager, Andrew Otley, started with the company as an Apprentice.

Andrew said he feels lucky to work in a family-owned company where he has been given so many wonderful opportunities, from flying in a helicopter all over the state testing Hydro Tasmania’s communications towers, to becoming Contact Group’s Business Development Manager.

“The company owners have always rewarded loyalty, and this has come in the form of diverse opportunities with roles and positions along with the framework to build strong relationships with co-workers,” Andrew said.

Wade said he was proud of Contact Group’s strong intake rate which is an important legacy of the company.

“We’ve given a lot of opportunities to the industry and individuals. A lot of those people have gone on to bigger and better things, different companies, travelled overseas or to the mines and some are still with us today, in the office tendering, or project managing, or managing Contact’s different divisions.”

Contact Group now employs a total of 192 staff statewide, with branches in Hobart, Launceston, and Burnie.