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Association of Wall and Ceiling Industries increases mentoring focus

Since their inception, the primary objectives of industry associations have been to champion the rights and position of their member businesses, and while they still fill this important function, in recent years, there has been a focus shift.

For the Association of Wall and Ceiling Industries (AWCI) NSW, providing mentoring and training programs is now just as important as its core goals of advocating the interests of contractors, suppliers and manufacturers in the wall and ceiling industries.

According to AWCI NSW’s Executive Director, Jane Barnes, education and training is vital to continue advancing the wall and ceiling industry.

“There’s a risk that the work a qualified wall and ceiling liner performs can be seen as a ‘handyman’s’ work, and requires fewer skills and training than other trades,” Jane said.

“Take a look at any building, office, boardroom, theatre, showroom, stadium or home, you are going to see walls, ceilings and/or facades that could vary from Modern, Art Deco, Colonial, Victorian or Federation eras to name a few.  

“This is just on the surface, behind the lining is a myriad of technology and science that works to ensure the integrity and performance of a building. It needs a qualified wall and ceiling liner to know what they are doing when installing these products, both on the surface and behind the wall and ceiling.

“The AWCI works hard to dispel the ‘handyman’ myth by promoting to government and the broader construction sector, the advanced work practices and the technologies that the leaders in our industry offer.”  

To keep members at the forefront of the latest advancements and practices, ACWI NSW has a variety of programs available to upskill both employees and business owners. These include industry training courses such as Stilts Safety and Maintenance and Passive Fire Installation, through to Nationally Recognised courses such as Certificate III in Wall and Ceiling Lining, Apprenticeship Training and others.

Jane said that in addition to these fixed training programs, mentoring was available from AWCI’s Executive Committee Members, all of who were experts within their respective fields.

“The mentoring program is another way for AWCI to impart knowledge and assist our members and their employees to overcome any hurdles they’re facing, from technical questions to business advice,” Jane said.

“We’re fortunate to have access to experts such as Michael Lavorato, who readily make their time available. Michael and his company TM Linings are industry leaders and have a lot of experience and insight that they can share with others.”

Michael Lavorato said he thought it important to give back to the industry and to help up-and-coming plasterers and business owners, to increase their professionalism for the betterment of the broader sector.

“We’re seeing some talented young tradespeople coming through the ranks in our industry, but while their technical abilities can be very good, they often lack broader business awareness,” he said.

“Some need assistance to develop the know-how that will allow them to successfully develop and run a business – skills such as identifying break even points and cost margins, as well as other general proficiencies.

“At the moment the process is quite informal with AWCI members being able to call or email for a chat, but going forward we are looking to establish webinars or round tables meetings where a number Executive Committee Members can impart some of their knowledge to participants in an intimate forum environment.

“We believe that initiatives such as the mentoring program will assist in lifting the wall and ceiling industry, leading to increased professionalism which will in turn deliver better overall outcomes for members along with the clients that they service.”