NEW DIRECTION: Former army man Steve Maxwell is now looking to a future in carpentry.
NEW DIRECTION: Former army man Steve Maxwell is now looking to a future in carpentry. Contributed

New program arms veterans with tools after service

READJUSTING to civilian life can be a huge challenge for ex-military personnel, and while that transition is a multi-faceted one, finding and settling into a new career is one of the larger hurdles.

To help smooth that transition, East Coast Apprenticeships launched the Defence Trade Program, where alongside an alliance of training organisations across the country, ECA works to find veterans and ex-service personnel adult apprenticeship placements.

Part of the innovative Defence Trade Program, Help a Hero was launched last month to help military personnel transition out of a defence career and into civilian trade positions.

Among the new recruits is former cavalryman Steve Maxwell, who was offered a carpentry apprenticeship this month with Newstead's Torre Developments.

"In my case, it was either leave the army now or stay in forever,” Steve said.

"I had achieved everything I wanted. I was deployed, I was a recruit instructor, I was in command of quite a few troopers, but I didn't want to be away from home anymore and as soon as you've lost that drive there's no point staying in.

"I'll be retiring as a carpenter that's for sure.”

Steve's commitment, attention to detail and teamwork earned him his adult apprenticeship, after first completing ECA's Trade Outcome Program to hone his tool skills.

The Defence Trade Program is offered by Group Training Organisations, including MIGAS, 1300Apprentice, and Hunter Valley Training Company in NSW, and Golden West Apprenticeships, SMART Apprenticeships, and East Coast Apprenticeships in Queensland.

ECA CEO Alan Sparks, who helped design the program based on his own 27 years in the army, said the Defence Trade Program was part of an increasing effort to raise awareness that soldiers who sacrificed so much in service life deserved the support of the nation in transitioning to life afterwards.

"Ex-defence personnel make outstanding employees,” he said.

"You're going to get someone who has integrity, resilience, and who will operate very effectively as part of your team.”

Mr Sparks said the support of the construction industry was vital to the program's success, and encouraged employers to register interest by emailing defence@nationalapprentice or by calling 38813166.