Hastings Deering looks to the future

Hastings Deering's 2018 apprentices

Hastings Deering’s commitment to training the next generation of workers has spanned decades.

For the past 40 years, the equipment and energy solutions supplier has developed up-and-coming mining and construction workers through its apprenticeship program.

Since 1989, Hastings Deering has trained almost 1600 apprentices and in 2018 remains one of the largest trainers of apprentice diesel fitters in Australia.

It hasn’t mattered where the mining industry has been in its cycle, the exclusive Caterpillar equipment dealer has remained determined to maintain the strength of the apprenticeship program.

And, it seems for prospective candidates, the program is more popular than ever.

In February, 48 new apprentices from Queensland and the Northern Territory started work for Hastings Deering’s mining and construction divisions.

The company was astounded, yet delighted when more than 1000 people applied for its 2018 apprentice intake within 24 hours of it launching the online applications process.

By the time submissions closed, the equipment specialist had received 1800 applications, with the final intake the largest at the company in four years.

However, the popularity of Hastings Deering’s program was not the only aspect of the application process that delighted the company’s management. It also provided evidence of the inroads that gender and cultural diversification was making in the industry.

More than 200 females applied for apprenticeships for auto electricians, boilermakers, diesel fitters, fitter machinists, mechanical fitters and electrical fitters. The final intake included five females and five Indigenous workers.

Hastings Deering executive general manager – mining Mark Scott said the substantial number of applicants demonstrated why it was so important for the company to strengthen the apprenticeship program.

“The 48 apprentices are more than double the previous year and we plan to continue to invest significantly in our training programs,” Scott told Australian Mining.

“We take immense pride in the fact that we’ve had 40 years of consecutive apprenticeship training within our business.”

Hastings Deering, a registered training organisation with learning centres in Brisbane and Papua New Guinea, is Queensland’s third largest trainer of apprentices behind two government organisations.

The apprenticeships it offers span four years, with all apprentices receiving a nationally-recognised qualification. The next intake will be in 2019 but Hastings Deering is now reviewing if it will accept a second intake in 2018 due to the high interest.

Hastings Deering managing director Dean Mehmet said the almost doubling of last year’s apprentices reaffirmed the company’s commitment to equal opportunities, training and the need to continually replenish its talent pipeline.

“As a country, Australia needs to remain agile and on the front foot for when the resources and construction sectors pick up,” Mehmet said.

“While many companies are running leaner operations than ever before we need to continue to offer both our young people and mature age workers career pathways.”

Hastings-Deering’s apprenticeship program has evolved to reflect the developments and updates made to mining equipment, including the introduction of new technologies and innovations.

The company has also increased the program’s focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects and the value they have in the mining and construction industries.

Hastings Deering achieves this through collaborations with industry organisations like the Queensland Resources Council (QRC), which it works with to build awareness of STEM subjects and the future direction of the mining industry.

“There is definitely an increased focus on technology as more and more of it becomes available on machines,” Scott said.

“We will continue to add more focus on STEM subjects as well — the big push is currently around improving skills in literacy and numeracy.”

And while Hastings Deering understands the importance of creating a pipeline of future workers, it is also committed to developing the skills of its existing employees through training programs.

Hastings Deering’s long-term view includes its experienced personnel — many of who have progressed through its apprenticeship program to become leaders at the company, Scott added.

“We have launched several front-line leadership training programs and we had more than 300 people go through those training program last year,” Scott explained.

“That was very much focused on leadership skills such as communication and coaching, and business skills.”

With skills shortages again emerging in mining, the industry could learn a thing or two from how Hastings Deering is working to avoid such issues.

This article also appears in the April edition of Australian Mining. 

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