Rustlers has been in business for over 20 years and is a regional institution in Albany. Owner Les Palmer shared some of the challenges he’s faced running a business during a pandemic, and the opportunities he found through recruiting apprentices and trainees in WA.
Are you managing to find the staff you need for your business?
COVID has found us short staffed, and importantly short of skilled staff. Experienced cooks and chefs are hard to come by. Even recruiting trainees and apprentices, who actually want to be at work, can be difficult.
How do you usually manage workforce development, for example training and upskilling?
We’ve encouraged a lot of our staff to attend courses that either they find or we find. They can sometimes seem expensive, but the outcome is a more experienced workforce and one that feels appreciated because we’re willing to spend money on upskilling them.
What value have your apprentices and trainees brought to your business?
New recruits can bring challenges to employers. It’s one thing to do a task, but to teach successfully is another thing. The certification the apprentices and traineeships work towards does a big part of the teaching for us.
We also know that we’re injecting more skill and talent into our industry to fuel the future. This is what our industry needs and it’s rewarding.
What would your business look like without apprentices?
It would still function, but perhaps without the same drive and passion as we would like. Also, the long-term investments to the industry would suffer in time.
Tell us how The Apprenticeship Community has supported you?
Our contact, Shirley, is always happy to drop in and help with questions, sign ups and filling out complicated Government funding forms. She’s helped us recruit apprentices and trainees in hospitality, commercial cookery and kitchen operations.
The mentoring service for our trainees and apprentices is one of the main reasons we use the service. Currently, mental health seems to be a big issue in today’s youth. It’s good for the young apprentices and trainees to know that there’s someone neutral to turn to regarding the difficulties of living life and trying to complete their accreditation at the same time.
Have you taken advantage of recent wage subsidies?
Yes, we have taken advantage of the wage subsidies. They’re not the main reason why we take on apprentices and trainees but they’re certainly welcomed. The best one so far has been the 50 percent reimbursement of wages. This has been challenging to claim but The Apprenticeship Community’s representative Shirley has helped us enormously.
What would you say to other employers considering hiring an apprentice or trainee?
Where possible, recruit an apprentice or trainee – they’ll make your business stronger. If every business took one on, it would make our industries more robust in the long term, knowing we have a larger pot of qualified people in the workforce to choose from.
Find out more about the support and funding your business is eligible for at The Apprentice Community.
Find out more about Rustlers Steakhouse & Grill. We can help with apprenticeships and traineeships in Albany and WA.