Australia’s premier luxury motor yacht builder Riviera is continuing to raise the bar in apprentice training by ensuring the learning curve extends beyond the technical skills required for a successful trades career.
Over the past 20 years, Riviera has enhanced its award-winning apprenticeship training with its Propel program, which is designed to coach apprentices in more than just how to build world-class motor yachts. Propel helps apprentices develop life skills that can put them on the path to personal success.
Adam Houlahan, Riviera’s Training and Safety Manager, oversees the Propel program and, along with many of Riviera’s management team, understands the benefits intimately.
“As the program has been a part of Riviera’s work culture for the past 20 years, most of our middle-management team, some of them in the mid-30s and 40s now, have been through Propel,” said Mr Houlahan who is among the Propel alumni.
“Propel is an important aspect in establishing a culture of teamwork and quality within our organisation.
“I found that what I learned all those years ago has become increasingly more relevant now than when I started at Riviera at the age of 18.”
All 80 Riviera apprentices participate in Propel across the four years of their training, meeting once a month on Friday mornings at 6am. That means a session is held every week for the apprentices at each level.
The program covers up to 12 subjects a year designed to build confidence, team culture and leadership, while also giving apprentices essential skills such as setting goals for their career, relationship, finances and life generally.
“The two key areas we find that need to be addressed among young people is to give them clarity about what they want in life and how to control their destiny by taking action now, towards meeting their goals,” said Mr Houlahan.
“Learning to understand and then articulate what they want out of life is so important as it supports what they will learn about self-motivation, accountability and decision making.
“Everyone in our team supports the program and believes in its purpose, which is ultimately designed enrich our employees’ lives.”
Riviera owner Rodney Longhurst is particularly passionate about the Propel program and the personal success of each Riviera staff member. Mr Longhurst, who started his career as a cabinet maker through an apprenticeship, attends most sessions on Friday mornings in a hands-on approach that exemplifies his commitment to staff training and development.
“Propel plays a vital role in developing a productive team culture at Riviera, while also giving our apprentices the knowledge they need to get what they want out of their careers and life,” said Mr Longhurst.
“Guiding our young people on finding the right path is important in its own right and this can create so many opportunities for them.
“Our philosophy at Riviera is that in order to build world-class motor yachts, we need to have world-class people.
“We have the master craftsmen here to share their great knowledge and skills with our apprentices, but we also want to make sure that every apprentice is given all the skills in life, from their work, finances and their personal life, to propel themselves forward.”
Riviera apprentice Max Phillips sees the Propel program as helping him manage ‘adult life’.
“It’s teaching me things that I never learned in high school, such as how to save money, what to save for and even how to set goals,” he said.
Apprentice Kial Lunden-Bingham is learning a great deal about keeping a positive mindset.
“Propel really opens your eyes to the real world and helps you stay focused and have clarity about what you want in life,” he said.
Mr Houlahan said the merits of the Propel program are self-evident in the personal and professional growth of apprentices.
“The early stages of the program concentrate on responsibility, being accountable, and the importance of being clear with communication, and this is an immediate positive result that we notice,” he said.
“Our people need to engage with a large team across the entire production process, from supervisors to Riviera dealer representatives. We are all internal clients whether you work in the lamination department, engineering or the waterfront, so clear communication, respect and a service mentality are vital.
“Propel is an important step for the personal growth of our team members and ultimately this benefits the entire Riviera Family through a deep ‘can do’ culture of quality and service.”