ATEP Today

The name has changed but Apprenticeship & Traineeship Employment Partners’ (ATEP) core values and services developed over more than 30 years are still alive and well.

Now part of Westvic Staffing Solutions, the organisation continues to provide the same high-quality services for apprentices, trainees and employers from its head office in Cheltenham.

ATEP History

Founded in 1987 as Southern Suburbs Group Training (SSGT), the not-for-profit Group Training Organisation (GTO) was formed to address a significant local unemployment problem.

A feasibility study in the mid-1980s identified the need for a GTO in south-east Melbourne to address significant community concerns about youth unemployment.

The then-mayor of the City of Moorabbin, Neil Hamilton, who owned a manufacturing industry and had employed a number of apprentices, saw the potential of the group training model and the advantages it offered both employers and employees.

Along with founding member Geoff Cockram, Neil worked to establish SSGT.

SSGT’s first employee and inaugural CEO was Mal Foster, who was with the organisation for nearly 20 years.

SSGT was initially based in office space in Moorabbin donated rent free by Neil Hamilton before moving to a rented office in Taylor Street, Moorabbin. As the business continued to grow, the organisation purchased premises in Jamieson Street, Cheltenham where it remains today.

In 2011 the trading name was changed to Apprenticeship & Traineeship Employment Partners. The Board of management believed this better reflected the services being provided and was more easily understood by the wider public.

In addition to its core group training services, ATEP worked on many projects, including the School-Based Apprenticeships and Trainees Project, a Federal Government program that allowed young Australians to begin an apprenticeship or traineeship while still at school.

ATEP also participated in the Multi-Industry School-Based and Pre-Apprenticeship Support pilot program.

In 2009, the then SSGT established a vocational scholarship for students undertaking vocational studies who were at significant risk of leaving school due to their financial circumstances. This scholarship contributed to more than 350 students realising their vocational dreams.

ATEP merged with Westvic Staffing Solutions in March 2018, strengthening both organisations and providing a strong base for future growth.

Over more than 30 years, ATEP employed more than 5000 apprentices and trainees and worked with more than 400 host employers.

ATEP Today

Now part of Westvic Staffing Solutions, the not-for-profit community-based organisation continues to work with apprentices and industry to improve employment outcomes for people in Melbourne’s southern suburbs.

As has been the case since 1987, its primary role as part of Westvic Staffing Solutions is to provide apprenticeship and traineeship opportunities for young people and to support businesses to address skills shortages.

The 2018 merger of the two organisations ensured ATEP’s long-term sustainability and allowed Westvic to increase its footprint across a wider geographic area.

Individually the organisations shared the same services and core values, together they continue to espouse those ideals.

Westvic Staffing Solutions CEO Dean Luciani says the merger of like-minded organisations has been mutually beneficial.

“ATEP is still operating as it was, only now it’s part of a larger organisation which ensures its sustainability and opens the door for future growth,” Dean says.

ATEP now operates under the Westvic Staffing Solutions banner. “We want to trade under one strong brand and as a united organisation,” Dean says. “We are committed to preserving the origins and history of both organisations but we don’t want to confuse the market by using two different names. We see ourselves as one organisation with one set of values, core purpose and commitment to helping people.”

Like SSGT/ATEP, Westvic Staffing Solutions provides support to businesses, students and job seekers with the aim of finding them staff, employment and training solutions.

The Cheltenham Office can be contacted at:

5/12 Jamieson Street


Phone: 03 9583 9444

ATEP Legacy

Westvic Staffing Solutions recognises and honours the history and important legacy of SSGT/ATEP.

Two of the influential figures in this history, founding member Neil Hamilton and inaugural CEO, the late Mal Foster, will be recognised with ongoing awards presented to outstanding apprentices and trainees.

Mal was employed ahead of the organisation’s incorporation in 1987 and continued until his death passing in 2003.  Neil was the driving force behind the start of the organisation.

Both men were strong supporters of the traditional apprenticeship system.

Naming the awards in their honour ensures an ongoing connection to two of the key founders of the organisation.

“ATEP was founded by community-minded people and we want to acknowledge their influence and contribution,” Dean Luciani says. “ATEP will always be part of our organisation. You never forget where you’ve come from.”

ATEP Brand Transition

Return to the Westvic Staffing Solutions homepage and learn more about our services.