Zac Phelan

Zac Phelan

Student puts experience in the bank


Sydney teenager Zac Phelan is still at school but he has already landed a job with ANZ which could set him up with a long-term career.

The 17-year-old from Cranebrook in Sydney’s West works one day a week as a paid Trainee Service Consultant at ANZ ’s St Marys branch under the bank’s Indigenous traineeship program.

Zac says the work has its ups and downs but he knows it will put him ahead of the pack when he finishes school and starts full time employment at the end of next year.

“Working here is the first job I’ve ever had and it’s good,” Zac said. “ANZ being a reputable organisation, I know that I’ll get credit for working here for two years. It proves that I’ve handled money and I’m trustworthy.”

As well as looking great on his resume, Zac’s work experience will entitle him to apply for any available job at ANZ when he completes his traineeship. ANZ has a target to recruit at least 50 per cent of trainees into permanent roles when they finish the traineeship.

There are no guarantees but with his banking experience and internal referees Zac will be in a strong position compared to external applicants for the same job. ANZ has a team of dedicated Career Development Managers who support Indigenous trainees to transition into permanent roles at the end of their traineeship.

Zac is one of approximately 420 Indigenous trainees that have started with ANZ, of which  54 have completed the traineeship and gone on to ongoing employment with ANZ. A further 240 trainees are currently completing the program.

ANZ signed up to the Australian Employment Covenant (AEC) in December 2008 with a commitment to supply 10 per cent of entry level branch roles (352 jobs) for Indigenous people. The AEC is a three-way commitment between Australian employers, the Australian Government and Indigenous people to break the cycle of unemployment amongst Indigenous Australians.

In the long term, Zac’s traineeship opens up a world of opportunities as ANZ is one of Australia’s largest employers with operations around the country and across the world.

Zac said his Mum, Michelle and sister were overjoyed that he had a foot on the career ladder at such a young age.

“My family thinks it’s brilliant. Mum always gets up in the morning and irons my clothes and what not to make sure everything is right,” Zac said. “They’ve been behind me 100 per cent with the whole thing.”

Zac snared his job after representatives from the Aboriginal Employment Strategy (AES) came to his school and selected six Indigenous students to apply for traineeships with ANZ, which is an AES partner.

Three of those students did interviews at the St Mary’s branch, where Branch Manager Colleen Cheetham was impressed with Zac’s enthusiasm.

“He presented very well at the interview and he had really good answers towards the questions that I asked all of them,” Colleen said. “It wasn’t just – I’m going to do this because it will count towards my HSC.”

Colleen says that her instincts were right about Zac, who had made rapid progress in the time he had been with ANZ.

“He’s excellent. He came on board only a year ago and he’s nearly to the point now where he could start referring (sales),” Colleen said. “He’s come a really long way given that he’s only here one day a week.”

After accepting the traineeship with ANZ, Zac was sent for two weeks of induction training, which included three days per week of offsite education and two days in the branch.

He now handles a range of customer service transactions including withdrawals, deposits, paying bills, credit card payments, general enquiries about fees and the occasional referral when he sees a customer who could use an appropriate service.

Colleen said that because of her positive experience with Zac, she would be happy to hire another Indigenous trainee.

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