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FWC apprenticeship decision aims to strike 'careful balance'

28 August, 2013

The Fair Work Commission has rejected "unworkable" union claims opposed by industry, according to Ai Group chief executive Innes Willox.

"In today's (August 22) Fair Work Commission (FWC) decision, the full bench has clearly tried to strike a careful balance between the need to modernise wages and conditions for apprentices, without jeopardising jobs and career prospects for young people," Willox said.

"In doing so, it has rejected many unworkable union claims which industry strongly opposed.

"Hopefully the big increases which will apply to first and second year apprentice wage rates from next year will not impact on apprentice numbers which are already under pressure.

"The new wage rates will only apply to those who commence their apprenticeships after 1 January 2014 and will be phased in over a 12 month period up to 1 January 2015. Despite this, there is the risk that the higher rates will have negative employment effects. Hopefully this will not be the case, as apprenticeships are vital in addressing skill shortages and in providing rewarding careers.

"There are big increases for first and second year apprentices in the manufacturing industry but the impact will be bigger in some other industries where the existing rates are much lower for example, hairdressing.

"Pleasingly, the Commission has rejected many ill-conceived claims pursued by the unions during the case including: a claim for employers to pay apprentices for the time spent travelling to local TAFE colleges to undertake off-the-job training; unworkable restrictions on apprentices carrying out manual / labouring work during the period of their apprenticeship; a claim for an extra two weeks' notice of termination, on top of the notice periods that other employees are entitled to.

"The decision is long and complex and it will take some time to fully assess the impact," Willox said.

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brett | Friday, August 30, 2013, 10:08 AM
Lord help the mature aged apprenticeships in the future. look out for more 457 visas. great move for the Aussies NOT
Tony van Sleeuwen | Friday, August 30, 2013, 11:21 AM
Another unjust win for the unions and loss for young people and the loss for industry in general!" Lets pile a whole lot of unrealistic claims to FWC and they'll give us the one we want" the oldest union trick in the book! What about Australia's 60% small businesses who have to fork out this outrageous claim!, they might as well hire adult(over 18) employees. What a bunch of fools, to live in HOPE that this won't affect loss of "Junior jobs" is brainless!!!
Stuart | Friday, August 30, 2013, 12:23 PM
This is a triumph for stupidity over requirements. In most societies around the world, the individual is expected to contribute to their own education. Most students finish university with a sizeable debt to their name. But the sector we need in Australia is looking to make a profit during their education. The impact of an apprentice on my business is I employ someone who contributes 30% for the first two years and sucks up 20% of a qualified tradesman. It is thus considerably cheaper for me to put on another tradesman or a TA. Good luck for the future of the country, this is another nail in the coffin of continuing development.