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The number of participants in the Wests Tigers Apprentice Mentor program has experienced rapid growth recently, largely due to the support of Phil Gilbert Motor Group.

One of the Clubs Corporate Partners, the inclusion of Phil Gilbert Five Dock (12 apprentices) and Lidcombe (15 apprentices) has led to a total of 60 participants that are currently offered support by Wests Tigers Apprentice Mentors.

Run by the NRL, the main focus of the program is to increase the completion rate of apprentices in Australia by offering guidance and support from mentors such as Dene Halatau and Steve Lavers.

With all 15 Australian NRL Clubs participating in the program, Wests Tigers currently lead the way within the Sydney-based teams and are continually looking to increase the number of apprentices.

After four seasons with the Bulldogs, Halatau returns to the Wests Tigers having experience in the particular program and is currently completing a Diploma of Building and Construction.

I started the program this year at the Bulldogs, I dont have a trade background myself but Ive been playing the game for a while and have done some other mentoring roles and thats where the fit was, Halatau said.

Obviously its about getting these guys through their apprenticeships and getting the guys someone else to talk to.

Its a different avenue and if they have any issues that they feel comfortable talking to me and I can develop a relationship with them and getting them through their apprenticeships.

Lavers, a former Balmain Tigers forward and an electrical contractor by trade, said the mentor program plays an important role in apprentices completing their chosen course.

Program is about offering a resource to the apprentice, such as goal-setting and dispute resolution, Lavers said.

Its always helpful to communicate a problem through another avenue.

Phil Gilbert General Manager Bob Goldsworthy praised the program and encouraged other corporate partners to get involved.

We are involved with the Wests Tigers from a sponsorship point of view, but we are all about looking after our employees and giving them something different than the day-to-day workplace, Goldsworthy said.

Having the Wests Tigers and someone like Dene involved is a great opportunity to diverse a bit from the daily routine.

I think its a great program and gives employees someone else to talk to if they have a problem and they feel they might be intimidated by talking to senior management about the type of thing.

Peter Borg, Phil Gilbert Five Dock Service Manager, said the program is beneficial in giving apprentices someone else to talk to.

I think its a good idea as they dont always want to talk to you, Borg said.

You get them and in and you know that theres something wrong but they wont tell you and they might say something to their mates but they dont always do that either.

When theres something like this, they know that there is someone independent to talk to.

I think it will help them and they will be guided in finishing their trade, its a good thing.

Traineeships are also a big part of the program, with Under 20s players such as Delouise Hoeter (Cert III in Business), Luke Brooks and Mitchell Moses (both Cert III in Sport and Fitness) having assistance available to them during their studies in 2013.

Wests Tigers will continue to increase the number of apprentices involved in the program, with Steve Lavers taking expression of interest through email

Acknowledgement of Country

Wests Tigers respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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