BLOG: Traineeships – the Power to Transform
How investing in trainees can bring unexpected and far-reaching rewards.
By Genevieve Dunn, Head of Strategic Engagement at Queensland Ballet.
During the first week of a new job with Queensland Ballet (QB), I was advised an ArtsReady trainee would start the following week. I was to be the designated supervisor. Other than the trainee’s name – Mahalia – I was told little. I knew there were significant challenges in Mahalia’s home environment, that she needed this traineeship for consistent income, and that Mahalia was a former dance student at ACPA (Aboriginal Centre for the Performing Arts).
In all honesty, I felt a little hesitant. Afterall, I was still finding my own feet – so how could I possibly offer Mahalia solid ground? What happened over the next 12 months is a story both Mahalia and I believe is worth sharing.
Bringing a trainee or apprentice into a workplace can seem like an unnecessary effort. ‘Social responsibility’ is a very important truth, but it carries with it an inevitable weight.
Our hope, however, is that QB’s experience inspires all of us to see it differently. Mahalia’s traineeship with QB is a fantastic exemplar of how a positive job placement for a young person has the capacity to transform lives. And, when I say ‘transform’ I’m not just referring to the life-changing potential of the trainee’s personal opportunity. I also want to share the overwhelmingly-positive outcomes that take flight within companies who invest both time and resources in a trainee and their journey.
If a company’s culture aims to foster ‘Human Kind’, as the slogan says (‘we can be both’), then workplace diversity is the key to its growth and success. A team culture enriched through our individual differences develops respect and empathy. Inclusivity builds morale and emotional intelligence. As Federal Government policy states, for employers, traineeships bring ‘new and valuable resources and skills’ into a business. That is undoubtedly true. But, in our experience, welcoming Mahalia to our team has brought so much more.
At the heart of the Queensland Government’s stated priority to support Queenslanders to find meaningful work, is a call to action for the younger members of our community – take your future on. Mahalia has certainly done that. Her commitment is, and continues to stand, as an example to young Australians that forging your own path, armed with passion and ambition, is very challenging but also very possible. For a young Indigenous person, this is particularly urgent to reinforce. As with any job there are inevitable ups and downs but, with perseverance and the desire to grow both personally and professionally, doors will be more likely to open. A bold, confident company, eager to improve its culture through the welcoming of trainees, helps build those doors. For QB, the experience has been an enrichment for us all.
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Image: Mahalia Roma (QLD Ballet Trainee) and Genevieve Dunn