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New Beginnings: Jess shares her apprenticeship story

August 28, 2020

What do you do if you’re in an apprenticeship, but falling behind? We recently spoke to Jess, who managed to turn her difficult apprenticeship around with the help of HSA, and is sharing her story in the hopes it will inspire others.

“It was fine – at the start,” Jess says. “She was professional and everything, and she didn’t have any problems.”

But it wasn’t long until the cracks appeared. “She was late all the time and would always leave me by myself,” Jess remembers. “I’d have to do things I wasn’t qualified for, or even knew how to, like all-over clipper cuts. She never showed me how to do any of it; she just expected me to already know.”

Even when Jess asked for help or advice, it was ignored. “I would ask, ‘is this how you’re meant to do it?’ and she would say, ‘yeah, that’s fine,’ without looking at me. She wanted me to do it so she didn’t have to.”

Even though she was only a first-year apprentice, Jess knew her training was suffering. “I was way behind.”

Jess stuck it out, hoping things would get better, but late last year, she and her colleague were suddenly let go with no notice.

Her colleague’s mother knew about HSA, and reached out to their local ambassador for help – Ethical Salon owner, Vanessa. “I met with the girls and their mums,” Vanessa remembers, “we talked for two hours and the girls signed up.”

With her apprenticeship on hold, Jess went to TAFE to finish her Certificate 2, but couldn’t wait to get into a salon again. A couple of months later, Vanessa offered her a role as a casual tea and tidy. “Her experience was so similar to mine,” she says. “She went through what I went through, having to teach herself everything.”

After the worst of the coronavirus outbreak passed, Jess eventually signed on as a second-year apprentice. “Everything is different,” she says excitedly. “I can actually learn!”

One popular criticism of apprentices is that they can be lazy, unmotivated, or unwilling to learn, but it’s more complicated than that. When we talk to our members, lots of them say they are frustrated that they’re not being taught correctly – being held back, ignored when asked for help, or rushed through.

Vanessa says that the new training environment has completely changed Jess’s outlook. “She’s a lot more motivated,” she says. “She’s gone out on her own, signed up for a make-up course. She wants to be here; she’s got that attitude.”

“When I met her a year ago, it reminded me of me. I could see how drained they were and they weren’t happy. There was no life. And now she’s a completely different person. I can’t keep up with it.”

Jess’s situation shows how guidance and support can make a massive difference not just to your work but to your entire outlook and attitude. Your apprenticeship is where you can develop your skills and prepare you for your career.  Your Certificate 3 is important, and you have the right to one-one-one, dedicated teaching at a pace that suits you.

If you don’t get the right training from the start, it can really hurt in the long run. So if you feel like your employer isn’t taking your apprenticeship seriously, like Jess was, we urge you to reach out to us.

Jess agrees. “There is a place to go to, people to talk to. Join the union! HSA is here to help you out.”

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