Training & Careers

Master Builders Australia welcomes Govt's targeted support for apprentices

MASTER BUILDERS Australia has welcomed the Federal Government’s announcement of strengthening targeted support and services available for apprentices.

Chief executive officer Denita Wawn said with around half of apprentices failing to complete a trade apprenticeship at a time when the industry is facing critical skill shortages, this investment is a sensible step to give apprentices the best possible chance to remain in the industry.

“Construction is the backbone of the Australian economy, employing approximately 1.3 million people, providing infrastructure, commercial and community buildings, and homes for the growing population," Ms Wawn said.  

“Nearly 10 percent of the 1.26 million people employed in construction are apprentices or trainees, the highest proportion of any industry in Australia.

“On September 30, 2022, 121,479 apprentices and trainees in-training were employed in the building and construction industry. This is three in every 10 apprentice and trainees employed in Australia and significantly more than any other industry sector," she said.

“With Australia's population projected to grow by over 50 percent between 2022 and 2060, reaching nearly 40 million people, the industry will require a significant workforce to undertake the necessary building and construction work.

“Work integrated learning pathways — including apprenticeships, traineeships and cadetships — are critical to ensuring the building and construction industry has a pipeline of skilled workers.

“The early stages of an apprenticeship are the most tenuous. Pastoral care can benefit apprentices, is a core element of the group training organisation model, and likely one of the main reasons that GTOs have higher completion rates than small employers," Ms Wawn said.

“The construction industry attracts more male than female workers. Improving the attractiveness of the industry to women presents a massive opportunity to increase the pool of potential workers.

“Initiatives such as Master Builders Australia’s Women Building Australia program are supporting retention through mentoring, helping to dispel misperceptions about the industry, encouraging more women into construction, sharing the stories of women in the industry, and nurturing career progression and business resilience,” Ms Wawn said.

Last week, Master Builders Australia released its blueprint for future-proofing the building and construction industry’s workforce in wake of a shortage of half a million workers.




Airwallex and University of Melbourne help to ‘forge Australia’s future tech leaders’

GLOBAL financial technology (fintech) innovator Airwallex has embarked on a pivotal partnership with the University of Melbourne, aiming to help build ‘the next generation of Australian tech leaders’.

With a total investment from Airwallex of more than A$3 million, the partnership is aimed at increasing access, exposure and career opportunities for technology students, and in turn, growing the pool of future technology talent in Australia.

The partnership will run into 2025 and builds on Airwallex’s long-term relationship with the university, which is where the four Airwallex co-founders first met. University of Melbourne’s Engineering and Information Technology students will be considered for a range of opportunities across multiple programs, including the Airwallex Excellence in Technology Scholarships, the Opportunity Fund, the Student Enrichment Plan, and the Future Idea Fund.

Airwallex Excellence in Technology Scholarships are 42 financial scholarships, valued at up to A$15,000 a year, which will be offered across the three years for gifted and promising students in Bachelor or Masters programs. Scholarship recipients will be given priority consideration for internships at Airwallex.  

The Opportunity Fund is for  students experiencing financial hardship. The fund will provide one-off payments for up to 100 students to support their studies, and is available throughout 2023 to both domestic and international students.

The Student Enrichment Plan is a series of special activations, awards and facilities to foster innovation amongst students and alumni. This will include hackathons, guest lectures and talks from Airwallex leaders at key university events such as the Endeavour Exhibition, which Airwallex has been involved with since 2019.

The Future Idea Fund offers a “plethora of initiatives” to increase access and exposure to training and careers in technology.

Airwallex and University of Melbourne staff and students will also have the opportunity to co-locate in the Melbourne Connect innovation precinct. Located in Parkville, Melbourne Connect brings together world-class researchers, industry leaders, start-ups, government representatives and students seeking to leverage research and emerging technologies to disrupt and transform society.

As a nod to the founders who were running a cafe in Melbourne’s CBD when they started exploring ideas that would become Airwallex, the company will provide free coffee at Melbourne Connect for students through the partnership.

The partnership between Airwallex and the University of Melbourne will expand opportunities available for students, and in turn, grow the pool of future tech talent in Australia, according to Airwallex co-founder, CEO, and University of Melbourne alum Jack Zhang. The initiative has come at a time when the tech talent shortage continues to negatively impact Australian businesses. The Tech Council of Australia has forecast that Australia would need 653,000 additional people in tech jobs by 2030 to fuel the nation’s economic growth1.

“Since our inception, Airwallex has strived to create opportunities for exponential career growth and development,” Airwallex’s Mr Zhang said. “Our partnership with the University of Melbourne marks a significant step-change in our contribution to building the tech leaders of tomorrow. It’s an honour and a privilege to be in a position to give back to the community that's been a part of the Airwallex story from day one.

“Airwallex was founded by looking beyond what’s possible, and we want to empower students to do the same. Whether through scholarships or grants, Airwallex guest lectures or events, our partnership aims to drive innovation and provide meaningful support to the next generation of technology professionals and leaders.

“We understand deeply the tech talent challenges facing businesses today. By providing students with opportunities and support from inside the sector, this partnership aims to grow the local talent pool and ultimately, strengthen Australia’s tech and start-up ecosystem. I look forward to seeing the next generation of Australian tech leaders, entrepreneurs and innovators benefit from this partnership and make their mark in the world.”

Dean of the University’s Faculty of Engineering and Information Technology, professor Mark Cassidy said the University was delighted with the new partnership.

“It is very exciting to see alumni, such as Jack and his co-founders, achieve such success with their own business and be able to give back so generously to the next generation of technology professionals and Australia’s broader tech sector,” Professor Cassidy said.

“The Airwallex scholarship and opportunity programs will make a real difference to our students’ ability to focus and continue with their studies each year, while the enrichment and idea programs will equip our students with the knowledge and mindset to become leaders in the workforce,” he said.

“This partnership exemplifies the University of Melbourne’s commitment to collaboration as a means of nurturing innovation. Bringing together world-class researchers and educators, industry and students, we can create an environment where great minds connect and incredible futures emerge.”

Tech Council of Australia CEO, Kate Pounder said, “The Tech Council of Australia welcomes this exciting new partnership that will ensure more students gain crucial skills that will allow them better access to great Australian tech jobs.

“This partnership is a great example of the power of collaboration and how organisations can work together to improve and create new pathways to attract more students to consider and take up a career in tech.”

Airwallex is a financial technology platform that assists modern businesses to grow beyond borders. With one of the world’s most powerful payments and banking infrastructure, the technology empowers businesses of all sizes to accept payments, move money globally, and simplify their financial operations in one single platform.

Established in 2015 in Melbourne, Airwallex saims to connect entrepreneurs, business builders, makers and creators with opportunities in every corner of the world, Mr Zhang said. Today, Airwallex has a footprint across Asia-Pacific, Europe, and North America.

ITECA says Parliamentary Inquiry Into skills training should focus on student choice

THE Independent Tertiary Education Council Australia (ITECA) wants the Federal Parliametnary Inquiry into skills training and vocational education and training (VET) in Australia.

“As a nation, we need to put students at the centre of the skills training system," Independent Tertiary Education Council Australia (ITECA).chief executive Troy Williams said.

"We need governments to back their decision to study with the training provider of their choice, whether it’s a quality independent training provider or a public TAFE college,” he said.

“At a time of widespread skills shortages, too many students can’t access government funding to study courses that will get them into a career in industries critical to our economy. 

"That is the primary issue that the parliamentary committee needs to consider in detail,” Mr Williams said. 

This week the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Employment, Education and Training launched an inquiry into the perceptions and status of vocational education and training (VET) in Australia.  The chair of this parliamentary committee has said that the inquiry would examine the choices of Australian students, employers and educators.

“Current skills funding models mean that too many students can’t access government funding to undertake courses in critical areas such as electricity generation, gas distribution, sustainability, plus resources and infrastructure.  It’s no wonder employers can’t find skilled staff,” Mr Williams said.

The ITECA chief executive referred to a government skills funding model that directs a disproportionate amount of funding to public skills training providers, often to the detriment of students and employers. 

"That is because, in many cases, independent registered training organisations (RTOs) offer the lion’s share of training in these areas – and sometimes are the only provider – but students can’t access government funding for these courses," Mr Williams said.

“Public providers of skills training do some good work, but they don’t always have the resources, staff, expertise and industry linkages to deliver quality training in many areas critical to the economy. 

"That’s why current government funding models that direct the bulk of government funding to the public sector don’t serve students and employers well,” Mr Williams said.

The parliamentary enquiry will review Australian Government programs which could influence any structural barriers to improving the skills training system.

“A major structural barrier in the skills training system is a funding model that is not student-centric, prohibiting them from studying in areas critical to the economy.  As the Australian Government negotiates a new skills funding agreement with the states and territories, we need to ensure that students are at the centre of the vocational training system,” Mr Williams said.

Government data referenced in the 2022 ITECA State Of The Sector Report shows that taxpayers can have confidence in the investment made by governments to back a student’s decision to study with private providers. 

“When it comes to program completions by government-funded students studying with private RTOs, they have a completion rate around twice that of government students with public providers,” Mr Williams said.

Government data references in the 2022 ITECA State Of The Sector Report show that independent RTOs across the nation support 87.1 percent of the 4.3 million students in skills training, including 70.9 percent of students in diploma and higher skills qualifications, 69.4 percent of students in Certificate IV programs and more than half of all apprentices and trainees.

ITECA State of the Sector Report key facts:

  • Independent skills training providers support 70.9% of students in Diploma and higher skills qualifications.
  • Independent skills training providers support 69.4% of students in Certificate IV programs.



ETU warns higher education review needs 'skills and training sector voices'

THE Electrical Trades Union (ETU) has warned a landmark review of Australia’s higher education system could fail its objectives without clear voices from the vocational skills and training sector.

The Federal Government’s review plans to focus on opportunities for better alignment between vocational education and training (VET) and universities.

The ETU has welcomed the higher education review and its focus on VET-university collaboration. However, ETU acting national secretary Michael Wright said to unlock the potential for post-secondary education, the panel would need to engage strongly with VET industry participants. 

A ministerial reference group chaired by Education Minister Jason Clare will advise the panel. Its composition will be announced before Christmas.

“This review is a great idea which, with the right stakeholder engagement, will be able to achieve meaningful collaboration between vocational and university education,” Mr Wright said.

"Rapid technological change and a major skills shortage makes collaboration between universities and vocational education and training more vital than ever.

"For that to succeed, the experiences of students navigating both of these systems needs to be central to the conversation," he said.

“We need to support greater engagement and alignment between the VET and higher education systems, to do that the panel needs to listen to a comprehensive range of voices, including union representatives for students in vocational skills and training.

“We’re keen to engage with the panel given our members’ invaluable knowledge about the VET system, and how it can be reformed."



BlueRock says flexible working is becoming a ‘non-negotiable’ aspect for employees

SINCE THE PANDEMIC, companies have formulated a new work structure to accommodate regulations that were put in place to keep workplaces safe – and it has changed the way employees see ‘office hours’.

As Australian workers move on from COVID-19, many have since been urged to return to the office full-time and employee reticence is a challenge being faced many businesses. Some enlightened businesses see this as an opportunity to innovate.

BlueRock associate director at law, Catherine Stephens said, “The way we work has been radically altered, and we now face a once-in-a-generation opportunity to redefine the social contract, rethink work and explore better ways of creating value.

“It isn’t about everyone working from home or the office, but instead about defining a new, hybrid world,” she said. 

“Moving forward, the hybrid-work policy should be developed in consultation with workers. Otherwise, businesses may struggle to retain employees or attract new talent.”

With research showing more than one in three Aussies would resign if they couldn’t work from home, Ms Stephens has developed a series of tips for both employers and employees on how to accommodate flexible working arrangements:

Do employees want to go back to the office?

“According to the National Bureau of Economic Research in the US, one in three Australians are searching for jobs that include remote work, and 35 percent would resign or immediately start looking for a new job if their employer required them to return to the office full-time,” Ms Stephens said.

“Alongside this, 2.7 percent of searches on Indeed are related to remote work – 6.4 times higher than before COVID-19 – indicating flexible working arrangements are now a necessity for employees.

“Australian employers are responding to this demand with the majority of advertisements on Seek including a reference to the option for a component of flexible work. 

“The number of people searching for jobs that include remote work has surged following the pandemic, which could lead to some companies struggling to attract or retain workers if they don’t embrace flexibility,” she said.

Does remote work improve productivity?

“The National Bureau of Economic Research in the US suggests that allowing employees to work remotely can increase their productivity,” Ms Stephens said. “In a plus for many Australians, working remotely can save up to $4,500 on commuting costs annually.

“With the rapid rise of the cost of living, savings like this will be front of mind for workers. 

“One of the most effective ways people can stay productive while working from home is by taking breaks throughout the day and not overloading on work. With all the modern comforts of home beckoning our attention, it would be understandable if employers saw a productivity dip in remote workers.

“However, the opposite is true. In fact, remote workers appear to be working longer hours while enjoying a healthier work-life balance and reduced stress, so it can be a win-win.”

Do employers have to provide flexible working arrangements for employees?

“According to the Fair Work Ombudsman Australia, employers can only refuse a request for a flexible working arrangement – made by an employee who is entitled to make the request –  if they have ‘reasonable business grounds’,” Ms Stephens said.

“Reasonable business grounds for refusing a request could include cost – the requested arrangements would be too costly for the employer.

“Capacity – there’s no capacity to change the working arrangements of other employees to accommodate the request.

“Practicality – it would be impractical to change the working arrangements of other employees, or take on new employees, to accommodate the request.

“Or an inefficiency or impact – the requested arrangement is likely to result in significant loss of efficiency or productivity.

“The request may also have a significant negative impact on customer service.”

How employers can adopt flexible working arrangements

“As an employer in modern times, it can be difficult to incorporate flexible working arrangements and to change the structure of pre-pandemic norms,” Ms Stephens said.

“However, organisations can implement effective flexible work arrangements, by establishing clear contractual and policy terms as well as particularised job descriptions that allocate responsibilities and tasks to each employee.

“Employers should set clear guidelines and expectations on workload capacity to ensure that employees who work flexibly are aware of what they are expected to achieve both in and out of the office.

“Setting up a work schedule outlining the days and hours each employee works from home and assigning certain office and remote days is essential for managing the operation of the business. This schedule should be readily available across the business so that other employees can see where each employee is located on a particular day.”

Safety compliance

“It is important to remember that when an employee is working from home, the home becomes an extension of the workplace for the purpose of work health and safety legislation,” Ms Stephens said.

“This means that before granting flexible work arrangements which allow an employee to work from home, the employer should conduct a risk assessment of the home work space.

“Risk assessments include reviewing the employee’s work set up to ensure that they have a safe working space. Where the risk assessment identifies a risk the employer must take all reasonable steps to remove or reduce that risk,” she said.

Ms Stephens said BlueRock had been developed over more than a decade into a multidisciplinary entrepreneurial advisory firm of expert advisors “that work together to support clients in operating and growing successful businesses and achieving their personal goals”.  She said BlueRock had grown to become “an exciting and successful entrepreneurial community and has been awarded Best Place to Work for three years running.

She said BlueRock placed great importance on giving back to the community “and, through our Be BlueRock Foundation and certification as a B Corporation, we strive to have a positive impact on the world”.


Bob’s your platform to make complex employee management ‘groovy’

By Leon Gettler, Talking Business >>

HIBOB is the global company behind ‘Bob the HR platform’ which is transforming how organisations operate in today’s ‘world of work’.

HiBob is a modern people management platform. What distinguishes HiBob from other platforms is that it is designed to be one that all employees can benefit from. Specifically, these platforms are built as human resources (HR) tools for HR teams.

“In the modern world of work, where you’ve got employees working remotely, globally, the ability of all employees to benefit from a single platform where they can connect, communicate and be attached to the mission, the vision, the values and be recognised – it’s a huge difference between how traditional HIS models have been built,” HiBob country manager for Australia and New Zealand, Damian Andreasen told Talking Business.

He said this allowed HiBob to operate in multiple countries and to move very quickly. 

Mr Andreasen said HiBob had a wide market. It will work with companies that are 50 employees, and scaling quickly, “all the way to companies with 5000-6000 employees”.



Many of the companies using HiBob are locally based with regional offices that have issues with remote work and keeping employees attached to the organisation.

The platform also deals with a lot of multinational corporations that might be moving into the second or third region and need a system with the flexibility to support the complexity that comes with moving into new markets.

“Anyone who is investing in their employee experience, who want to make sure their employees have really good recognition and a great career journey, they are traditionally in more modern industries,” Mr Andreasen said.

“We work in a lot of tech, bio, finance, professional services, all the way through to construction companies as well. Anyone who is looking to retain and get their best out of their employees.”

Mr Andreasen said a lot of companies were still dealing with these complex issues using spreadsheets.

“You’d be amazed at how many organisations have grown at such a rapid scale and pace that they just haven’t put the systems in to help them grow in the way that they need to,” he said.

“We can talk to a 50-employee company that’s using spreadsheets and that’s not such a surprise. There’s also plenty of companies out there with 500, 2000, 5000 employees that are still operating, especially with compensation and talent management, on spreadsheets, and that is difficult to get a single source of truth.”



Mr Andreasen pointed out that HiBob has the technology to retain and search detail simply and it allows companies to examine employees in a more focussed way, right down to how engaged they are their compensation planning.

Mr Andreasen said HiBob can take it from “hire to retire”.

“The partners we work with want a real view of their teams and their employees,” Mr Andreasen said. “This allows them to work in more detail with these employees.

“So you’ve got this single source of truth, you’ve got the ability for organisational charts, do workforce planning for the future. You’ve got talent modules that allow you to do one-on-ones, do employee lifecycles, see trends up and down in terms of the engagement and happiness of the employee base and also do compensation planning,” he said.

“HiBob is very much an end-to-end people management platform.”

Mr Andreasen said Singapore specifically and South East Asia in general are big growth markets for HiBob.


Hear the complete interview and catch up with other topical business news on Leon Gettler’s Talking Business podcast, released every Friday at




How to get a pay rise in the current hybrid working environment

By Helen Baker >>

AS 2022 HAS ALREADY seen major strikes in the health care and education sectors, the question of ‘what is a fair salary?’ is one being discussed in industries across Australia.

The increased cost and risk of doing business during the recent years of the pandemic has made salary discussions more difficult than ever.

With the latest job mobility data released from the Australia Bureau of Statistics (ABS) revealing the lowest job changes on record (only 7.5 percent of employed people changed jobs in the year ending February 2021, see footnote below) it seems employees are looking for ways to make the most out of their current jobs rather than jumping ship.

In this new hybrid working environment, the value an employee offers a company is vital. While productivity may have increased, visibility to senior management has conversely decreased, making it more challenging for many employees to get ahead in their roles and increase their salary. 



Here are my six tips for getting a pay rise in the current hybrid working environment:

Exceed in your role. Make sure you understand what is expected of you in the role, and find unique ways to surpass your targets. Look at performing beyond your KPIs and not just meeting them. Along with adopting a new time management strategy, you might consider taking on training to broaden your skills set and boost your sales rapport. One crucial aspect of your performance is to equate the amount of work you produce with the value it brings the business. Find direct correlations between your actions and your success and show how what you bring to the business has improved alongside your performance.

Be more visible to senior management. A hybrid working environment means that we spend more time away from the normal dynamics of an office. This means employees get fewer opportunities to be noticed by upper management and be seen as an integral part of the company. One easy way to make sure you get noticed is to participate in as many online meetings as possible. Come into the workplace on additional days when you know senior managers will be there, and ensure you speak with them. Employers love to hear that their employees are happy and thriving, it means that they have fewer issues to worry about and can consider them more reliable and stable employees. You can combine your praise for the company and your role with recent client success you might have had. After all, if you’re increasing profits for the company, it’s in the employer’s best interests to keep you happy.

Offer solutions. Take the initiative and offer solutions to problems that business leaders share in meetings. Many businesses are struggling to cut costs and streamline their profits while increasing productivity and sustainability, and this is an opportunity to show you not only understand the company and how it functions but can act in its best interests. That’s the kind of person an employer wants to keep around.

Plan for employee appraisals. Where possible, keep up to three months of performance data. This length of time will allow you to illustrate where you have made improvements, and show consistency in your ability to perform and deliver value to your employer. If you started your role with a strategic road map, you’ll be able to see how you achieved those goals and show consistency in your performance. It also allows you to make future projections – three months of tracking history will help your employer see the value you can offer in the following quarter.

Ensure the timing is right. Just as you would research relative roles and salaries when negotiating in a job interview, gather as much information as possible about salary increases at your company before your pay review. If it’s your first time negotiating salary with a new employer, a list of discussion points is vital. This is your opportunity to find out what your employer is looking for in relation to performance, and what they can offer you in addition to salary to help improve your performance and contribution to the business.

Suggest performance-based pay rises. If it doesn’t look as though you will get a pay rise, suggest other alternatives to your employer, such as lump-sum bonuses linked to performance targets, shares, flexible hours, or even a reduction in your working hours. If there’s an issue with your skillset, can your employer pay for any ongoing training and development courses that may help you meet the requirements for a pay rise? Your goal here isn’t just to get more money, it’s to ensure your pay and benefits accurately reflect the value you deliver to the business.

If none of this goes to plan, remember to end the meeting on a positive note, and you should always make sure you leave the pay negotiation knowing exactly what your employer expects of you to make sure you receive a pay rise in your next discussion.


About Helen Baker

Helen Baker is a financial adviser, author, speaker and spokesperson for online finance information platform Helen has a passion for empowering Aussies to find financial freedom through strategic planning and goals-based financial advice. She has worked as a qualified financial adviser since 2009 and was a finalist in both the Financial Planner/Advisor of the Year and Women’s Community Program of the Year categories in 2017. For more information, visit

Footnote: for more information visit





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