For many companies in Australia, discovering skilled tradespeople to keep up with the demand has not always been an easy task. For Capital Veneering, based just outside Canberra, this was also the case. HR Manager, Chantal Atkinson, and her team became aware of Journeyman right around the time they were looking to add quality cabinet makers to their commercial joinery team (and having difficulties sourcing them locally). This is the story of how Journeyman relieved their hiring woes and sent Chantal and her team a consistent pipeline of highly-qualified joinery specialists from Europe.
What is it that Capital Veneering specialized in and what is your role within the company?
Chantal: Here at Capital Veneering we have over twenty years of experience in commercial joinery and project management. We also provide a full range of services: from design and project management to fabrication and installation. When I first started with the company six years ago, we had only 40 employees and since then, we’ve doubled, with a total of approximately 80 employees spanned across our two companies. It has been amazing to have been part of such a rapid expansion. My technical title within Capital Veneering is the ‘Finance & HR Manager’, however, I am also look after health and safety, compliance, as well as training and development!
What kind of projects have our Journeymen & women been working on?
Chantal: We’ve primarily had them in our commercial division, which involves large office fit-out jobs. We’re currently working on a large project at the Australian National Audit Office, which we have a couple of your talents working on. Some of our former Journeymen/women have even worked on fit-out projects within our Home Affairs Department. Soon, we will start working on a multi-unit project that will include approximately 1,200 kitchens for a local company here in Canberra, and we plan to have your Journeymen/women work on that project, as well – they’re very multi-faceted. They’ve also been participating in all of our fun off duty activities [see photos below]!
Why did the Journeyman program appeal to you?
Chantal: Back when you first contacted us, my co-workers and I thought it was an amazing opportunity to educate our employees on how things are done differently in different regions of the world. We love mentoring people here at Capital Veneering, and we have a culture that fosters and promotes learning. We provide an array of opportunities for young people to complete work placements and experience with us (we currently have around 13 full-time apprentices). By incorporating an abundance of diversity in our workplace, it allows our current workers the opportunity to comprehend unique ways of doing things, which is ultimately the reason we chose to start working with you.
Did you have any initial apprehensions with using Journeyman?
Chantal: There was initial concern around potential communication issues. I don’t speak German and I don’t consider myself very competent with other languages, which can present a struggle (if there is a communication barrier). It had been expressed to us that this was one of the requirements that the Journeyman team pre-screened and vetted for, however, I had my doubts. But as promised (and to my pleasant surprise), the Journeymen all had exceptional English speaking skills!
How was your experience with the Journeyman process (from initially hearing about us, to getting a worker on the ground, ready to start)?
Chantal: We didn’t have any problems whatsoever and found the process easier than expected. I’ve personally dealt with immigration in the past and it was always very difficult in my experiences. With Journeyman, however, the process was simple because we didn’t have to lift a finger or complete any paperwork – Journeyman took care of everything, including their visas! Initially, we had some back-and-forth about the candidates we were looking for, how we do things, and our company culture. Once they found us our first candidate, one of our Directors, Ben Madden, completed a Skype interview with the individual, then the next thing we knew, the candidate had landed, came in, and got straight to work! Overall, it was very easy for us.
How have you found the transfer of the Journeymen/women’s skills to those of Australian tradespeople?
Chantal: We’ve had no problems with their skills whatsoever, they hit-the-ground-running and settled right in. There were a few little tweaks we had to make in order to show them how we do things versus how they’ve been taught, but nothing of great significance. Overall, they’ve been very adaptable!
What’s the main thing that made you keep coming back to Journeyman when you needed skilled workers?
Chantal: Mostly, the skill level. What we find here in Australia is that it’s very difficult to find skilled tradespeople, especially in the field of Cabinet Making. It’s not something that the younger generations have worked towards over the last decade. Australia’s culture over the past 20-25 years has been very university-oriented, which has found more and more kids ending up in University, rather than the trades, which has ultimately resulted in a staggering lack of skilled tradespeople. Not only has your talent helped us to fill this void, but it’s also been a pleasure for our team to meet people from abroad and witness how they do things, which is why we keep continuing to collaborate with Journeyman.
What would you tell another company that was contemplating bringing over some of our talent, but still wasn’t 100% sure?
Chantal: I’d recommend it to anyone; I think it’s a great process! Journeyman handles all the work, so you don’t need to worry about anything. It’s a really simple process and the skill level that the tradesmen bring, is excellent!
What is Journeyman all about?
Journeyman is a German based start-up with a mission to build a global online-platform for the trades. Starting out, we’re helping construction companies from around the world find highly skilled and qualified tradespeople from Germany, Austria and Switzerland through our global trade-exchange program. Furthermore, we love sharing our insights with the industry and helping construction companies develop better and more sustainable Human Resource strategies.