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The Workshop podcast – Everthought History & Vision part 1

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 Hello Workshopers and welcome to another episode of The Workshop! Tools down, grab some smoko, sit on the Eskis and bring them a little bit closer. I have an amazing episode for you today.

So the last four weeks we’ve been showcasing our amazing trainers with their backgrounds and thoughts and ways of getting the most out of their experiences. But this week, I wanted to dive a little bit deeper into why Everthought, why would you come across the globe and come and train here. Or why would you take up your domestic apprenticeship with some of our wonderful trainers. So I’ve got a tremendous guest, it has been taking a bit of negotiation, but I’ve managed to get her on. Known as Mrs. TAFE, but not Mrs. TAFE. I have General Manager of Operations Nicola Fowkes. Nicola, thank you so much for coming on.

Thank you, James, I was thrilled when you asked me to come on the podcast, I’ve been listening to the other series, the rest of the trainers talking about what they love. So I was absolutely thrilled when you asked me.

I was blown away by actually the passion and the sheer amount of experience they all have and their love for teaching. It was truly inspiring actually producing them. So it was absolutely amazing. But I’ve got a little bit more of a different task for you, Nicola, I want to hear all about Everthought and its beginnings. And why construction?

Absolutely, it’s got quite the history, Everthought. And it’s been through a number of different iterations over time. But I think all of the experience that we’ve been through in different areas and markets, which I’ll tell you a little bit about, it’s actually made us a much better business, where we are today. So a little bit of history – Everthought came into play probably back in 2016, its join the EdventureCo group. And I can talk a little bit about the EdventureCo group if you’d like me to?

Yes please!

EdventureCo is an organisation that runs premium education facilities. So we are offered digital skills. And you may be familiar with a company called Lumify npreviously known as DDLS. It’s a premium IP provider across Australia, New Zealand and the Philippines. So we’re really excited that it is one of our brands. Then we have the soft skills area, which includes ENS, which is a negotiation and influencing focused on workshops and providing consulting opportunities. And recently, we have had a new member into our EdventureCo portfolio, which is the Plain English Foundation, which is a really exciting business – it helps people in the workplace, as businesses and government ensure that the way that we’re communicating to our clients is really an efficient way of communicating via EdventureCo portfolio. So we’re really focused on developing the workforce of today for success tomorrow. And so everything that we do within that business is really focused on education and making sure that all the people who are looking at what does my role look like tomorrow with all this digital transformation that we’ve been experiencing? What does that look like tomorrow? And how can I prepare myself for that?

So that’s really our philosophy behind when acquiring some EdventureCo businesses in the building and construction area. We actually were able to acquire two businesses at the one time.

So one was the Evolution Academy, and the other was Keystone in Brisbane. And those two businesses came together to form an offering to our clients that exceed their expectations. And it doesn’t matter if it’s the employer who is recruiting apprentices or apprentices who are working on site, or our international students who are joining us from all across the globe, the students that come to us to complete their training. And also making sure that we’re involved in the building and construction industry and being at the cutting edge of what’s happening in that industry. So our MTP is what we say gets us up in the morning. And when we’re looking at Everthought, how our MTP is all about in prosperity and livelihoods in the building and construction industry. So we just don’t see it as a qualification. We see it as an opportunity to help every single one of our students achieve the livelihood that supports themselves and their family and really enjoy along the way. So that gives a I guess, a bit of an idea of how we approach our Everthought business as a whole.

That was amazing. Nicola, you sound like a well-oiled machine with that one!

Well we have been very focused on this for five years now. And it’s the driving force in everything that we do. So it definitely rolls off the time after five years, but the great thing is still really applies just as much now as it did when we started.

No, absolutely. And one of the things that attracted me to Everthought was that passion for building that global construction workforce of tomorrow and ensuring that we do that, in obviously a digital manner, because that’s the way everything’s going whether we like it or not, but still being really authentic to the construction industry in the different localities. And how was that such a challenge for you guys? Because obviously, Queensland has a very different construction philosophy and process as compared to the double brick state that is here on Western Australia. How do you get those two to align? And what’s the advantages as well for students that are in the West Australian campus and maybe can find out a little bit more about the Queensland building process? And likewise, for Queensland as well.

Okay, excellent. So I think when we bought the businesses and the two businesses came together, they were located in the in these regions. And yes, you’re right in saying that they are quite different. We’ve got different legislation and so forth that apply in different states. So yeah, it’s definitely and we couldn’t have picked two cities further apart, so it definitely has been challenging in that regard. But also the two businesses that we had very different focuses. So for example, the campus in Perth when Everthought started, it had an international campus, whereas Brisbane didn’t, that was actually launched later in the Brisbane campus. So it was really an exciting challenge to line those two businesses, and ensure that we had the same portfolio of products, the same streams of delivery, which actually made us better in each state. So where one state was delivering particular area, for example, Queensland apprentices, was doing very well, we’re actually able to take that and apply it in Perth, and vice versa with Perth to Brisbane. So it’s really just aligning what we’re doing across the businesses. And what that does is it creates a portfolio across the whole building and construction industry. And that’s really what we’re focusing on is how do we bring more people into the building and construction industry. I’m sure if you talk to anyone who’s doing renos these days, they can never find enough trades people and we know that there’s, for a very long time, there has been gaps in this market. So for us, it’s about looking at every opportunity that we can to provide apprentices and qualified people into the industry. So that there is an opportunity to really create prosperity in that industry. So that applies, it doesn’t matter which state we’re in, that applies that the expansion of being able to offer international online, domestic and RPL across the states, that creates a really solid foundation for anybody coming into the business, no matter what their experience, no matter if they’re brand new apprentice, or there’s somebody who’s been working in the industry for 10 years, and wants to get their building license, for example. So we’re really talking about the building and construction industry and making sure that everybody in the building construction industry has an opportunity to train and develop. So I think that being able to deliver all of these products streams in both Perth and Brisbane has been fantastic.

Now I think you were hinting at where should our international students go – Brisbane or Perth?

We say that because James is in Perth, and I’m in Brisbane. So we have this battle all the time. But  we have two purpose built campuses in Perth and Brisbane, they do look very different purely because the campuses are designed slightly differently. But they are both really premier facilities that are available – definitely world class facilities that are available. And so when we talk about Brisbane or Perth, that depends who you talk to haha, there is definitely a great option for any international students coming to Brisbane and Perth. It’s really about looking at the different lifestyles and environments and what you’re interested in and seeing what suits you most. But I think the great thing is that we know that we can deliver a great experience to our students, whatever state they will be.

Nicola, part of the reasons why we kicked off this podcast was we noticed that a lot of the guys just trying to go through the course and just get to the other end of it. And then they can be a qualified tradesman if you like and then you get paid appropriately. But I feel a lot of people miss out on a lot of that learning opportunity and experience in terms of obviously the networking, especially with Everthought being part of the global network and the domestic network that those opportunities provide. What would you say to a student that is just starting their cert III at the moment? How could they get the most out of it?

Yeah, I know where you’re coming from James. But it’s quite common to hear people say I was just told to get a trade or I was told to get into a trade and I think one of your previous podcasts, that was probably the direction that some people taken in that I just need to do something. So I’m going to do this. I’m going to do my third three. But it really is a fantastic opportunity to start a qualification that allows you so many options when you complete that qualification. So we have people that move into a qualified tradie role. So they might be a carpenter, but they may be working in a big multinational building construction business, or they may prefer working in a small residential business. There’s also the opportunity that you can build your own business through qualifications and so forth.

So it is a fantastic opportunity for people to build a livelihood that will be with them through their whole working life. I think it’s important to think it’s not just about the technical skills that you that you need to get qualified. There are so many opportunities out there for people with qualifications in building and construction. And that means really learning from your trainers. The trainers have the real world experience, and they can really give a lot ideas and what it’s like working in the industry on site. And that’s really the value. When we talk about qualifications, yes, you do need to tick off all these items or units of competency as we call them. And that’s really important, but just as important is really gaining knowledge from the people around you. And that’s I think the great thing about Everthough; it’s we’ve got significant amount of experience in the industry everywhere you look. So lots of people have been in industry and some have turned into trainers, others have moved into other roles with us, and then managers and so forth. So it doesn’t matter where you start, there’s actually a huge amount of opportunity out there for you to use this experience moving forward. And the skills that you learn on site, and within the training program, that might not be those technical skills are really important. So I’ll just give you a quick example. I was over in Perth, I was spending a bit of time out with a brick and block class at the time. And they were building chimneys and there are very specific requirements. And the trainer, he’s very experienced at the time in this area, and mistakes had been made. And so everything has to be knocked down and built back up again. So it creates lots of deep learning experience correct things like resilience, and having a really high quality standard, until Perfect, all of those types of things, which are really important skill in building and construction. But also your journey may take you.

No, absolutely. And that’s some advice I try and give out if I’m ever asked is to start off with a goal and start off with where ideall, you would like to end up. But then as you travel down the road, be flexible with that. And if other opportunities present themselves, don’t be super rigid with your own thought process.

Yeah, I absolutely agree with that, James, because even when we’re just talking just in the building and construction industry, it’s so many avenues to take. So it’s not just become a carpenter in that it is this. It’s Okay, what type of business do you want to work in? You want to be? And where do I want to focus? And do I want to develop further? And should I study even more and complete a diploma? So I think there’s so much opportunity there once you open your eyes and see the different avenues that you can take just in building construction.

Oh, it’s absolutely mind blowing Nicola and we’ve got one of our small employers that works with us on the Apprentice side of things. And he literally, all he does it’s skirting boards for construction businesses. And that’s all he does. He has four apprentices and himself and he makes a very profitable living that was making me question my life choices to be honest with you. That really brings me on to the next question I had for you, Nicola. Obviously, we’ve talked quite a lot at length… I’ve accidentally been a little bit biased towards our international marketplace, but I think our domestic marketplace as well as also extremely exciting. And one of the key features of our delivery method is quite unique to the marketplace. I was wondering if you could provide a little bit more light around that for us.

Yes, certainly. So for the apprenticeship market, it’s… look we love the apprenticeship market. There’s similarities across all our revenue streams, but with our apprentices, they’re normally engaged with us for three to four years depending on how they move through the qualification and it’s really exciting to see the growth of people as they move through and I know our trainers become very close to their apprentices because it’s spending a significant amount of time with them over their apprenticeship. And I think the difference that we have in regards to apprenticeship from other ways of delivering is that our apprenticeships are delivered on site.

So we work with the employer and the employee and our trainers go out to the worksite to support our apprentices. We will make appointments, work with the employer, say when is it an appropriate time to come out? and then we’ll sit down, and we will work with the apprentices on site, look at their theory training with them. I know everyone wants to do the practical training, but we are building houses. So there’s theory involved. So they’ll go through this theory, and then they’ll work with the employer looking at the practical or experiential part of their skill set. And that’s a really great opportunity because it becomes a really strong relationship, rather than perhaps other options where the apprentice goes off site for the training, and it can be a little bit separated. And we find that the on site training allows a really supportive environment for our apprentices. And to ensure that they’ve got that continuous learning. Sometimes if there’s a big gap between delivering training, some of that knowledge is lost. So we’re really committed to making sure that we’ve got that ongoing training and assessment component to ensure that the apprentices really succeed moving forward.

And also making them I guess, work ready. At the end of the day, in theory, there’s no stopping a new apprentice, literally from finishing their apprenticeship and starting a business. And that’s quite a stark change for lots of people. Not saying necessarily that would be the recommended route but in theory, there’s nothing stopping you from doing that. And from the second, they finished, our apprentices must be ready to face all of those challenges. And I think that’s something that our apprenticeship trainers do an amazing job of, is making everybody ready and ready for that global marketplace.

Yeah, and a lot of our trainers that go out on site, they’ve run their own businesses, they’ve worked with large employers. So they’ve got the experience to share with these apprentices, no matter the environment they’re currently working in, but they’re able to share their experiences across different areas of the building and construction industry as well.

And different marketplaces as well, just here in Perth, we’ve got everything from the UK, Crete to the local West Australian market as well, there’s just such a wealth of knowledge there just to be picked apart. And that’s something that the guys are very generous with their time on as well is taking the time and getting to understand where you want to go, and how they can best achieve that with them.

And our trainers, and we’ve heard from them over the different podcasts, but they’re always incredibly passionate about the quality of education, the content of the education, and the relationship with the apprentices. I’ve seen some of our trainers really upset if somebody chooses that building and construction is not the pathway for them. They take it personally, which is just because they put so much time and effort and so much of their own experience into it as well. But it’s a great opportunity to learn lots of different skills.

Amazing, Nicola, just one last question from me. Where is Everthought going, what do you see as the vision for Everthought in terms of its relationship with the building construction industry?

It has been an interesting time, I should say it’s always an interesting time in the building. There’s always the peaks and the troughs that go along with the industry and for those that are in it, but they’re probably keenly aware of those. And we’ve also been through the COVID period, just like everybody else. And so that’s impacted building and construction in a very different way. So it is, it’s a really interesting industry cause of those peaks and troughs and how we move forward. But I think that’s really exciting for Everthought because what we look to do is ensure that we’re delivering lots of different options in regards to training, and we want to work with the building and construction industry we make sure that we’re meeting the need for them, and for the apprentices and students coming through the system with us.

So what does that look like moving forward? Funny, you should ask that because yesterday, I watched a video of Victoria University. They’ve just set up a VR model for safety in the workplace for building and construction. So you can see the students wandering around with their Virtual Reality goggles on, and really learning and experiencing what it feels like on a worksite before they get out there. And I’ve seen other types of things like that, where for brick and block work, you can have VR opportunities. So we’re talking about the future and how we deliver training.

It’s a really exciting time for building and construction and training, because a lot of these technologies that are coming through will implement building and construction, the industry itself, but it also allows us to really create some engaging learning experiences. So I think those sorts of options as we move forward into the future be great opportunity for us and for our students.

But Everthought as a whole, really looking at focusing on student outcomes. And that’s really important to us because if we’re focused on student outcomes, and employee relationships, the rest takes care of itself. We have an opportunity to provide more great training experiences to more people interested in the industry. We’re looking at the moment and expanding our product offering as well. So when we’re talking about the different opportunities or courses or qualifications that are available, we’ve added to our scope and started delivering that in Perth, just this quarter actually.

So we’re always looking at expanding so we can cover off more of the building and construction industry, that we can prepare people for. We’re always looking at really interesting opportunities from a… how we deliver to our students to create an exceptional learning environment. And we’re also really keen on working with industry and employers to understand the advances that they’re making within the building and construction industries to ensure that we’re in step with the industry and that we don’t fall behind. So there’s lots of changes going on. And I think that’s so exciting for the industry here.

Amazing, Nicola, I know you’re exceptionally busy and thanking you so much to share your experience and your thoughts.

Thank you so much for having me on. I appreciate it.

Thank you so much for listening. This is episode five of The Workshop and I’m really looking forward to bring you episode six!

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