Trying trades in trying times

A RECENT try-a-trade event at Beaconsfield’s Davis Park was the latest initiative aimed at pulling the “Beacy Bronx” out of the doldrums.

Attended by training providers, agencies and local community service groups such as Meerilinga and St. Pats the free event was organised by the South West Metropolitan Partnership Forum to celebrate national skills and child protection weeks.

The park, once infamous for its used needles and broken glass, showed off its re-developed playground and basketball court to  South Freo high schoolers as they tucked into a free sausage sizzle before trying their hand at a bit of bricklaying and other trades.

But the fun and games couldn’t mask the strain a tough job market has had on the local community.

• Beacy kids try out trades - but will there be jobs out there for them? Photo by Sophie Moore

• Beacy kids try out trades – but will there be jobs out there for them? Photo by Sophie Moore

SMYL executive officer Julie Mitchell, who helped organise the event, says it’s the worst she’s seen in 30 years.

“We’ve seen a huge increase since the downturn, in the number of people worse off,” she says.

She says many older women and female refugees are seeking help.

“For refugees it’ll be only one woman will come down and then she’ll go back to the community and be like, yes, these guys are ok, they’ll help. So it takes a while for them to develop trust.”

The number of traineeships and apprentices have also slumped, particularly in the building and construction industry.

Housing Industry of Australia field officer Rob Christiensen says the downturn means fewer private companies are hiring apprentices.

“It’s the quietest I’ve seen it in 20 years,” he says.

“We need different ways of employing people like in building state housing.”

Ms Mitchell hopes events like Try-a-Trade will help strengthen ties among the community.



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