ArtsReady trainees are paid to learn on the job

Young people keen to work in support and service roles in the creative sector can be paid to work and learn through ArtsReady.
ArtsReady trainees are paid to learn on the job

Successful trainee Jennifer Sorgel.

The arts and creative industries are growing 40% faster than the general economy in Australia. They need young people trained now to keep up with future growth. ArtsReady is a program designed to help with that training by finding employers in the sector who are prepared to give young people a start in the arts.

ArtsReady is managed by AFL SportsReady, which has helped more than 10,000 trainees start their careers over the 20 years it’s been in business. That same experience and expertise comes with ArtsReady. ‘We see this as a great opportunity to not only support the development of the arts and creative sector but to give hundreds and hopefully thousands of young people the support, guidance, experience, education and opportunity they need to have a fulfilling and rewarding career in the arts sector,’ said AFL SportsReady CEO James Montgomery. 

‘We know that young people struggle to navigate their way into the industry. Our job is to support them.’

By "young", Montgomery means people still at school or those not long graduated; anyone with a diploma, degree or higher isn’t eligible for an ArtsReady traineeship. By "support and guidance" he means having an appointed field consultant to help the trainee settle into work and keep them on track through to the end of the traineeship. By "navigate" he means making those first steps on the pathway to a career, starting in junior support roles in administration for instance, or assisting with marketing. Think of it as a year to see what it means to work in the arts and creative industries from behind the scenes.

In that year the trainee is paid a National Training Wage for their work. This is the most valuable component of a traineeship, the supervised training on the job drawing on the skills, experience and knowledge of the ArtsReady partner employer. On top of that the trainee will study at Certificate level to have a nationally recognised qualification to take wherever they may go once the year is done. 

On average, trainees are given three hours a week on the job to work on their studies. So, a trainee earns and learns and finishes the year with a piece of paper that’s their for keeps, a new network of industry insiders and a better understanding of where they want to go next in their careers. All this with the wrap-around support of people totally invested in the trainee’s success.

ArtsReady has developed Certificates III and IV in Business to support the workplace training through its own Registered Training Organisation, but not all ArtsReady trainees will do a Business Certificate, it depends on the needs of the partner employer and the education options available. 

‘Our job is to sit down and ask what are the skill sets the young trainee needs, and then design and devise a training package that works well and can fit with a range of roles in the arts,’ Montgomery explains. ‘The program gives young people the best possible edge in starting their careers.’

Because the creative sector has said it wants more young people trained in business and arts administration, ArtsReady has designed business units to give trainees starting skills in workplace behaviours, databases, spreadsheets, budgets, marketing and project management backed with a sound understanding of the arts industry and Indigenous cultures. 

ArtsReady educators provide more support to trainees with four face-to-face contacts over the training year. The beauty of having business skills are that they are highly transferable. In the arts, any organisation, big or small, will need people with abilities in business and administration.

ArtsReady traineeships can take many paths, one of them to university through articulation agreements between Sports Ready Education and universities around the country, like La Trobe in Victoria, Griffith in Queensland, Curtin in WA and the University of Canberra. 

Of 2013 Sports Ready graduates, 82% stayed in employment but 12% chose to go on to further study. With these agreements now in place, more trainees may consider adding to their qualifications. For Deputy General Manager of AFL Victoria Steven Reaper, a traineeship gave him an advantage with his tertiary studies. ‘I chose to do a traineeship to gain real life experiences that would then assist me in providing an edge over fellow graduates once I had completed a Bachelor of Commerce at La Trobe University,’ he said.

But for Amelia Hills, Diversity Coordinator at the AFL, it was a different motivation altogether. ‘I chose a traineeship coming straight out of school as I wanted a year off from full-time studying - plus I was keen to gain some experience in a field that I was interested in working in later in life,’ she said.

Although ArtsReady is a new kind of traineeship, trainee experiences like Steven and Amelia’s may well be similar to the stories ArtsReady trainees could go on to tell. Certainly, as Steven found, traineeships open opportunities. ‘The networks that were generated from completing the traineeship ended up enabling me to re-enter the football industry some 10 years after I had completed the traineeship.' 

'There is no doubt by having completed the traineeship that I was viewed by potential employers as having an added advantage,’ he said. 

For Amelia, the traineeship led upwards: ‘Through both word of mouth and showing my skill set to managers who came from interstate, I was able to get a second year traineeship at the head organisation before then developing into further roles with the company.’

Their experiences match those of the 2013 graduates. An impressive 84% believe their experience has helped their future career path. For ones so young, that laser-like focus on their career direction is an invaluable advantage they have over so many other 18 and 19-year-olds. 

The education component of the traineeship was seen to be almost as beneficial, with 73% of participants crediting their qualification for putting them on the right track in their careers. With these positives behind them, no surprises then that given their time again, 79% said they would do a traineeship. After all, 35% of them secured ongoing employment with their host employer after they completed the traineeship.

For young people contemplating a career start in the arts through ArtsReady, the future is there ahead them. It’s all new territory but similar terrain has been trod before. If anyone has second thoughts, Reaper now in a senior executive position has no doubts. ‘I would encourage any person interested in exploring a traineeship to do so,’ he said.

Young people who are eligible for a traineeship and would like to know more can visit the ArtsReady website.

Troy Nankervis

Tuesday 18 February, 2014

About the author

Troy Nankervis is an ArtsHub journalist from Melbourne. Follow him on twitter @troynankervis