FROM THE FIELD TO THE WORKSHOP, A CAREER IN THE MAKING

In this series of articles, Automotive Repairers Council of Australia (ARCA) convener, Mike Smith, will take a look at issues that will affect automotive repairer workshops and topics of interest to the sector including occasional profiles of mechanics and other key personnel. msmith@aaaa.com.au

Future Auto Service Yeronga/Rocklea is working with the Brisbane Lions to set up its players for a successful career after footy in a unique arrangement which is yielding great results for all involved

Future Auto Service Yeronga/Rocklea has enjoyed a partnership with the Brisbane Lions for some years not only through providing top-notch service to a number of its personnel and players; but also through sponsorship and the personal club involvement of workshop owner, Craig Williams.
When Brisbane Lions defender Jack Frost said he wanted to pursue a career in the mechanical industry following his time on the field, Craig signed him up to his workshop and gave him the tools to make important in-roads to his ‘life after football’ while also providing important balance to Jack’s intense life as an elite sportsperson.
“We have sponsored the Yeronga AFL Club for several years and through fundraising events, manning BBQs and running water on Friday nights for the Yeronga Devils we have formed many new relationships with both clients and friends,” Craig explained.
“Through this we have met some of the Brisbane Lions Players, and when player Claye Beams told us Jack loves cars and would like an adult apprenticeship we thought this could be a good opportunity.”
Apprentices are a core part of any workshop and the future of our industry, so Craig and the rest of the Future Auto Yeronga/Rocklea workshop were keen to have Jack on board.
“I have been a qualified mechanic for over 30 years and have been running my own mechanical workshop for 19 years. Over those years we have seen a decrease in availability of qualified light vehicle mechanics,” explained Craig.
“We have also struggled to find apprentices with the work ethic that being a mechanic requires. It is so important in our industry that we have staff who have personal integrity to do their work to a high standard for the safety of themselves, their colleagues and our clients. Without this it is very hard for businesses to be productive.
“It has been really great having Jack with us and having someone who is motivated and keen to learn, as well as the extra help of course!
“We would certainly be keen to continue this arrangement with other players in the future – we believe employing professional sports people is ideal as they are well-trained through their club to have a high level of commitment, to be self-motivated and to carry a high level of responsibility.
“They also have an understanding about public image and behaving professionally and have a high level of ‘teachability’ and understanding of how to be a team player – all of these are skills are highly transferrable and valuable in our industry.
“While Jack’s time with us might not qualify as a ‘formal’ apprenticeship due to the hours he is able to keep alongside his playing commitments, we feel that whatever experience and education he gets from our qualified mechanics and from working on vehicles will help him get a head start on his apprenticeship, because a light vehicle mechanic apprenticeship is competency-based, not time-based.
“Future Auto Service Centres also provide training six times a year, with our workshop being the Southside training centre, so Jack will continually be getting up-to-date information. This means that when he is ready to move on from his AFL career, he will be able to gain his qualification more quickly and be on a more substantial wage more quickly.
“I am pleased to be able to offer that to Jack, and also to play a part in providing another interest besides AFL as a change is always as good as a holiday. I think more players could benefit from arrangements like this, they can network and make new friends in the industry, and be better prepared for ‘life after football’ if a trade is of interest to them.
“For us, having a professional sportsperson as an apprentice or adult apprentice could help us with the succession plan of guaranteeing we have motivated qualified mechanics for our future, and I think it is an idea that more workshops should consider.”
For Jack, the arrangement is something he sees as very important both professionally and personally.
“I love it and I believe having a job such as this alongside my playing career is pivotal,” Jack said.
“When you first get into the AFL system it’s a whirlwind and you need your days off to rest and recover but once you’ve been doing it for a while and are used to the loads, like me, having something to do outside of football is vital as footy can be all consuming at times.
“For me personally I really look forward to doing something else on my days off as I can take my mind completely off footy and feel as though I am in the real world for at least a day.
“I think it would be great if more businesses would offer apprenticeships to full-time sports people and it surprises me that it hasn’t been done a lot earlier. I can almost guarantee that a large percentage of footy players across the nation would rather do a trade than go to uni.
“Everyone is different obviously, but part-time university or short courses are so accessible and accommodating for athletes but it’s impossible to complete any of a trade as mostly they only offer full time options. Even being able to knock off half of the apprenticeship for when you finish is awesome.
“I would like to say a big thank you to Craig at Future Auto for being so accommodating and also to Claye Beams for introducing me to Craig. I would also like to mention how thankful I am of the guys working there and how patient they are with me while I continue to learn the trade, as I’m sure it would get extremely frustrating watching me do things in slow motion at times!” Jack laughed.
Jack isn’t the only one who is exceptionally pleased with the arrangement, with Brisbane Lions Head of Personal Excellence and Wellbeing, Andrew Crowell, stating the rewards are obvious.
“A number of the Brisbane Lions players and staff have utilised the services of Future Auto Service Centre Yeronga/Rocklea in the past and we have always been really happy with the service and standard of work provided,” Andrew said.
“When Jack identified Mechanics as an area he was interested in pursuing, it was only natural that we approached Future Auto Service as a possible employer.
“We have always found Future Auto Service and Craig to be very trustworthy and the flexibility they have provided to Jack along with the safe and supported environment was something that was extremely attractive.
“Now, Jack spends his days off doing something that he loves while enjoying flexibility with his working hours and learning an enormous amount in an industry that he is keen to transition into, following his AFL career.
“As an organisation, the Brisbane Lions place an extremely high value on our players engaging in a career pathway outside of football as it provides balance whilst they are playing AFL as well as a clear pathway for post career.
“Elite athletes are generally equipped with a number of transferrable skills that are highly desirable and we absolutely would love to see more businesses offering this kind of arrangement – as an industry we are focused on providing opportunities and pathways for our players and the more organisations that offer experiences and opportunities, the better.
“We have to say that Future Auto Service has been a pleasure to work with since Jack’s work experience began and we are so pleased that they are passionate about providing further opportunities in the future.
“We look forward to seeing Jack and many others wearing the Future Auto Service team colours as full-time employees following a long and successful career at the Brisbane Lions Football Club.”

Future Auto Service Yeronga/Rocklea is located at 1015 Fairfield Road, Rocklea. To contact the workshop, call 07 3848 1200 or email rocklea@futureauto.com.au