It’s not a relay if you don’t pass the baton on

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If you’ve been anywhere within earshot of me in the past months you’ll have heard about my frustrations with the pathetic school based traineeship (SBAT) systems that Australia currently has in place.

Now, it’s not the opportunity, the concept nor the theory of this system that I have a single issue with.  In fact, I thoroughly believe that school based traineeships are a really solid opportunity for so many young people.

That’s why I had explored the concept noted a few months ago HERE.   It’s also why, as an employer I have implemented a workplace policy of employing SBATs.

But the best ideas aren’t worth a grain of salt without the right people to drive them.

Last October – let that sink right in… OCTOBER 2015 I signed up a new SBAT. The process was easy.  I met with the school and her mum, we agreed we’d give it a go and we brought the relevant people in (a registered training organisation and an Apprentice support service), all of the paperwork was signed and sealed and lodged.

Except it wasn’t.

By February 2016, with my trainee still on staff and doing a fabulous job she still wasn’t ‘in the system’.  What’s even more irritating is that it was my role to chase that up.  Turns out that the original Apprentice support service ‘forgot’ to lodge the paperwork, someone left and it just sat there, now redundant.

My training organisation found a more competent Apprentice support service and we started again.

Now it’s MAY 2016.  I just phoned the overriding body to discover that MY TRAINEE IS STILL NOT SIGNED UP.  Turns out the new apprentice support service had the paperwork sitting in the system and someone, somewhere forgot to lodge it.

This post is not about the people I’m working with, they are all nice, professional people who move into action for me when I make the call.  But the problem I honestly believe is that there are just too many players in this system, and further impacting on this is the lack of will / responsibility / boxes to tick that ensure that each task is passed neatly onto the next component of the system.

It’s like if you were running in a relay and rather than passing the baton onto the next person, you just left it lying on the track, hoping that the next person will realise it’s ready for them and stumble along and pick it up to do their leg of the journey.

And if this was the first time that this happened I might have just had a bit of bad luck but it’s not, it’s the second.  My last trainee had similar issues, only made worse when the school ‘forgot’ to make sure he would receive an ATAR (so he could go to uni as was his initial desire).  He didn’t get one.  It couldn’t be changed.


It is not good enough because there is a dire shortage of employment opportunities for young people in our communities.  Because there are employers who want to fill those gaps but avoid them because of the incompetence of the systems that support these roles and the extra time it then adds to their week.

It’s not good enough because young people need these opportunities, these opportunities can save lives.

The solution through my eyes is simple…

Let’s create a one page tick box form for each and every SBAT.  The form will reference every silly little piece of paperwork that’s required and then state milestones of things such as units completed, mentors accessed and so on.  This form will be accessible at all times to all parties – geez, we could even get really technical and once a box was ticked off as complete an email (or some other form of notification) was automatically sent to the next player to do their bit.

Even a system such as Trello, Google docs could manage such a system.  Who would hold it together?  I don’t know the answer to that but I do know that if the expectation is that the employer would do that we may as well scrap the whole SBAT system right now.

Even though I thoroughly ‘get’ the complexities of ‘the system’, I understand that funding is short and quotas are the only way to make a buck for the services, I understand that people are tired, underpaid and frustrated by something so messy… From an employer’s perspective if these services are promising SUPPORT on the sign up, they’d damn well better tie the loose ends together too – otherwise I could just engage a young person to come and work with me after school and avoid the paperwork that otherwise goes with it.

Let’s get this right, it’s important.

Kerry Grace is a values based consultant based in regional Australia who facilitates resourceful, collaborative and strengths based solutions.

Kerry works with individuals and collectives of people (in business, not for profits and common cause communities) to connect with what matters and undertake immediate action to fulfill their purpose.

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