AUSCO partnership fills skills gap


Students from St Patrick’s Technical College in the northern suburbs have been hired to help local construction company Ausco Modular almost double its workforce over summer in an exclusive partnership that will help the company meet a skills gap and give teenagers hands-on experience.

Many of the 18 students employed from the College had intended to spend their summer continuing typical part-time work for teenagers but are now being paid for up to four months of full-time work as trades assistants for the Edinburgh North business.

The company manufactures transportable buildings for use in sectors such as education, recreation, and health, and has needed to recruit about 100 people – on top of its current 160-strong workforce – to meet new contracts that has led to it expanding to a second site.

Ausco regional manager Simon Manser said it previously had taken on a couple of work experience students from the College for one or two-week placements so he knew that students would have some of the job-ready skills it needed.

“We had three to four weeks to recruit between 80 and 100 people and thought, ‘How could we go about that?’,” he said.

“Rather than going to Christmas casual jobs such as in retail, we thought we could offer students something meaningful to what they were doing at school, or potentially meaningful, with a trade.

“It’s general building work, there’s some small electrical and plumbing components. It’s different to conventional building which is done from the outside in – we’re doing it in a factory environment, we’re process flow-driven, we push the building down the production line.”

Mr Manser said students also would gain insight into trades such as electrical and plumbing so would be able to reconfirm, or change their minds, when making career choices.

The Year 10 and 11 students are working at Ausco’s Edinburgh North factory as well as its new site at Lionsgate, the former Holden factory.

The students began at the start of Term 4 and will work full time, 6.30am to 3pm, through to the contracts’ completion at the end of January 2022.

St Patrick’s Technical College Apprenticeship and Traineeship Manager Jayne Shortt said it was the first partnership of this scale that the College had arranged with an employer.

“Employers know they can approach the College and can employ our students who are prepared, have work experience and can be on the tools,” she said.

“As a technical college, that’s what sets us apart. The College provides real world skills which are such an important part of what we teach our students.”

“These students are going to be set apart from others when they go to apply for an apprenticeship or further employment.”

Ausco Modular was established in Edinburgh North in 1961 and celebrates its 50th year of operations in South Australia this year.