Prospect Awards review: Morris delivers a step up for Indigenous workers

Megatrans2018 show director Simon Coburn and Morris Corp national resources manager Jay Jepsen

Morris Corporation has always stood out in the world of hospitality and facilities management, having established itself in the six decades since its inception as Australia’s largest privately-owned company in the sector.

Morris is dedicated to workplace sustainability at an employee level, serving remote and rural locations, with a particular focus on FIFO workers in the mining and construction industries.

The company employs 1100 people and has annual revenue of $200 million; Morris has the resources to deliver results in difficult environments.

Having recently entered its 50th year of service, there was surely no better way for the company to celebrate its golden anniversary than with the Community Interaction Prospect Award for its pre-employment work readiness programs.

Morris’s sterling delivery of a four-to-six week training program for Indigenous workers has seen great success, with 90 per cent of participants moving on to full-time roles at the end.

Having been a finalist in the same category at last year’s Prospect Awards, and now this year’s winner, Morris was naturally extremely pleased to receive its award.

A Morris Corporation statement to Australian Mining said the team was proud to even be nominated, and that to be declared the winner was a tremendous boost to the team.

Morris stressed the importance of employment sustainability was at the heart of the company’s success.

“Morris realised through experience that just offering employment opportunities was not sufficient, the more crucial factor was sustaining employment,” the company said.

“Just one of the ways our work readiness program was customised to facilitate sustaining employment was to include a fitness component delivered by a fitness trainer to ensure participants are in good health and work ready.”

“For Morris, issues of health and overall wellbeing has influenced almost every aspect of our business over the past year and will continue to do so into the future. The wellbeing of our workforce is just as important as the wellbeing of our customers.”

The team at Morris understood that in order to sustain employment levels and reduce turnover, it was essential that the right skills be taught at an early stage.

Morris entered a collaboration with VTECs (vocational training and employment centres) to help provide Indigenous jobseekers in Perth, Meekatharra and Port Hedland with improved opportunities through a TAFE-delivered program that includes modules such as food safety and interpersonal and teamwork skills.

Following graduation from Morris’s pre-employment course, candidates then proceed on to the next stage of the recruitment process and receive further hands-on training at Morris facilities post-hire; the process is thorough, extending beyond the remit of most job applications, and has seen a markedly positive response from applicants so far.

Morris believes the industry is more optimistic now when compared with this time last year.

“There is much more optimism,” the company said. “Rather than just green shoots, we are seeing new projects. We have just mobilised three new camps for Australian projects.

“We are positive and confident about the future — but we don’t want to repeat the sins of the boom. We must keep a focus on driving costs down continuously and becoming more efficient every year.”

The numbers speak for themselves; Morris’s borderline holistic approach to pre-hire prep has resulted in the training of 67 graduates, 54 of whom have since moved on to full-time employment — such statistics are indicative of the program’s great boost to work prospects.

The pre-employment readiness program also includes a fitness test — overseen by a trainer — and medical checks to ensure sufficient operational vigour.

These are not blanket tests, but are tailored to the specific industries candidates are applying to work for. Morris prides itself on not taking shortcuts, and this is a trait recognised by the judges at this year’s Prospect Awards.

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