Business bulletin: 11 November 2020

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Jobs First Plan cover page

The 2020-21 Northern Territory Budget is delivering a suite of initiatives for Territory small businesses to help them adapt, expand and create new jobs.

Our small businesses are a key pillar of the Northern Territory economy and many have been some of the hardest hit by the effects of COVID-19.

The 2020-21 Budget is designed to assist Territory businesses recover from the impacts of COVID-19 to innovate and adapt to new market conditions and to quickly employ or re-employ local Territorians.

Over the coming months the Department of Industry, Tourism and Trade will roll out seven new programs for Territory businesses to access, they include:

Small Business JobMaker Booster

The $7.8 million Territory Small Business JobMaker Booster program will help Territory small business by filling the gaps in the Australian Government’s JobMaker program by addressing the Territory specific hiring needs for new workers.

Small Business Pivot Grant

The $4 million Small Business Pivot Grant will help small businesses affected by COVID-19 adapt to the new economic environment and reach new markets.

Small Business CX Grant

The $5 million Small Business CX Grant is a one-off grant for small businesses looking to enhance their customer experience in the Territory for locals and visitors alike.

Small Business Roadhouse to Recovery Grant

The $4 million Small Business Roadhouse to Recovery Grant will help assist wayside inns and roadhouses to improve their visitor experience with grants of up to $150,000 to support infrastructure improvements.

Small Business Saver Grant

The $5 million Small Business Saver grants will assist local small businesses to reduce their ongoing costs.

Small Business Supply Chain Solver

The $2 million Small Business Supply Chain Solver program will assist businesses experiencing difficulties with supply chain challenges.

With COVID-19 restrictions impacting businesses’ ability to source and secure business supplies, this program will provide direct advice to help resolve supply chain issues.

Small Business Financial Fitness Fund

The $2 million Small Business Financial Fitness Fund will support businesses to access financial sustainability training programs specific to their needs.

For further information, go to the Jobs First Plan website.

SAGE staff accepting the Chief Minister's Award of Excellence in the Defence Industry
Caption: SAGE General Manager Andrew Meaney (left) and Senior Project Manager Matt Strudwick accepting the award.

A company playing an increasingly strong role in the Territory economy won the Chief Minister’s Award for Excellence in the Defence Industry.

SAGE Automation started in Darwin with two engineers 11 years ago - it now has 30 staff across Darwin, Alice Springs and Katherine.

It undertakes more than 10,000 hours of work on Defence assets in the Northern Territory each year, which includes delivering fit-for-purpose electrical control systems for the Australian defence industry.

The manufacturer and control system integrator has adopted new systems during COVID-19, including training Territory-based Defence personnel through the company’s Skills Lab training organisation, to ensure it can still deliver a top-class service to the Navy, Army and Airforce.

SAGE, which is a SAGE Group company, is also responding to the Defence growth in the Top End by developing a purpose-built HQ in Berrimah Business Park.

The office complex will enable the Darwin team to step-up operations and allow for even further growth.

SAGE is also launching a Territory work placement program as part of a commitment to the sustainable growth of a skilled local workforce.

The Darwin team has engaged a local electrical-electronic engineer through the company’s graduate engineering program and has taken on its first local apprentice in Katherine, plus two Darwin-based apprentices, to work on Defence projects.

SAGE’s Territory General Manager, Andrew Meaney, was delighted to accept the top Defence industry award at a dinner in Darwin.

“The hard work of our team and the support of local business partners have enabled us to achieve outstanding results on the delivery of major Defence projects,” he says.

Supported by the company’s National Operations Centre, SAGE’s Territory technicians provide 24/7 on-call support to keep critical Defence assets, such as fuel systems, airport runway lighting, and emergency power online.

Trainee learning how to use a drop-saw
Caption: Trainee Danielle Djanghara-Cooper learning how to use a cutting tool ... the pre-employing training program was a great community effort.

An innovative employment program has given four young Territorians the chance to turn around their lives.

Danielle Djanghara-Cooper, Deacon Braun, Darrian Niehsner and Leroy Hopkins are in full-time paid jobs after completing a three-week pre-employment course with First Step Development Enterprises.

The graduates are working with DDR Indigenous Contractors as part of the company’s engineering, construction and remediation services on defence projects in Darwin.

They are being intensely mentored as they work on different projects over the next six months to expose them to the range of career opportunities available to them.

The program is a great collaborative community effort.

DDR joined with First Step Development Enterprises and the Northern Territory Department of Industry, Tourism and Trade to deliver the course.

The program was also helped by other businesses, including Saltbush Employment Services and Carey Training, which provided accredited training in units from the Certificate IV in Construction.

Training was supported by a Territory Government Aboriginal Responsive Skilling Grant.

First Step Director Chongy Howard says the comprehensive pre-employment course emphasised the need to have a positive attitude towards working and develop a strong work ethic.

“They learnt what would be expected of them at work,” he says.

Exposing the graduates to a range of trades gives them a better chance of settling on a job that suits them.

“We don’t want to tell them what to do,” says Mr Howard. “They need to decide that.”

He says the pre-employment training is helping make young Territorians work-ready and giving them the opportunity to find satisfying jobs.

“We are trying to help people change their lives by setting them up for the future.

“We have hard conversations with participants about what went wrong in their lives in the past and what can be done for a better future.

“We help them develop the right attitude about work and develop a vision for themselves.”

Australian Training Awards Apprentice finalist
Caption: Australian Training Awards Apprentice of the Year finalist, Andrew Creber.

Our top trainees, apprentices, trainers and training providers will proudly represent the Territory at the 2020 Australian Training Awards.

The National Awards are a culmination of winners from each state and territory, celebrating excellence in Australia’s vocational education and training sector.

Due to COVID-19 the Australian Training Awards will be held virtually this year.

The Territory’s nine skill and training ambassadors, comprising of seven individual and two organisation finalists will celebrate together at a virtual watch party in Darwin next Friday 20 November.

The Northern Territory finalists for an individual award are:

  • School Based Apprentice of the year - Katlyn Craig
  • Vocational Student of the Year - Darren Braun
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander of the year - Dale Dhamarrandji
  • Trainee of the Year - Jaylie Maddaford
  • Australian Apprentice of the Year - Andrew Creber
  • VET / Teacher Trainer of the Year - Brendan Flynn
  • Excellence in Language, Literacy and Numeracy Practice Award - Rachael Leigh Taylor.

The two Northern Territory category finalist are:

  • Small Training Provider - Karen Sheldon Training
  • Industry Collaboration Award - Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education and Australian Defence Force.

The vocational education and training sector is integral part of the Territory’s economy, it supports Territorians to obtain the skills they need to participate and prosper in our local workforce and enables the Territory to grow local capacity and create more jobs.

Congratulations to all our finalists for their individual achievements and their contribution to training and education in the Northern Territory.

Last updated: 11 November 2020

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