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Govt's VET reforms 'restoration of apprenticeship brand'

11 September, 2014

Industry will have a stronger voice in ensuring Australia's workforce is skilled and ready to drive economic growth in the industries of the future, Minister for Industry Ian Macfarlane said in announcing a comprehensive reform package for the Vocational Education and Training sector.

Macfarlane announced the second tranche of the government's overhaul of the VET system at the National VET Conference in Brisbane on Thursday (11 September).

The reforms are the second tranche of improvements to the system wchi aims to elevate trades to the centre of the economy and focus on ensuring Australian workers are highly skilled and job ready.

Jump through 'endless red-tape hoops'

The government will make changes to the way the regulator, the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) operates to cut the excessive red tape for high-performing training providers and let them get on with "delivering the highest calibre training that meets industry and economy needs".

"The best way to ensure training providers deliver high quality training is to let each (Registered Training Organisation) stand on its reputation – not fill out reams and reams of paperwork and jump through endless hoops," Macfarlane said in a statement.

At the moment training providers are required to constantly seek approval from ASQA before they offer new courses or make changes to the courses they are already delivering.

The government will also work with the sector to implement measures to crack down on unscrupulous or misleading behaviour by 'brokers' who act as an intermediary between students and training providers, as part of the new standards for RTOs which begin in January.

At the end of the current contract period with the 12 Industry Skills Councils, the government will move to a more contestable model for the development and maintenance of training packages.

Current ISCs are welcome to tender under this new model along with new groups.

Apprenticeships 'equal to tertiary degree': MBA

Masters Builders Australia (MBA) said the reforms put "vocation back into vocational education and training".

"Master Builders has long called for a restoration of the apprenticeship brand. The reforms elevate the trades and vocational education as an essential part of Australia's economic future and of equal value to a tertiary degree," MBA's SEO Wilhelm Harnisch said.

"The building and construction industry has seen significant change in the way buildings are constructed requiring a different skill sets for which there are no appropriate accredited training courses.

"The current full trade qualifications need to be complemented by different skill sets to reflect the changing nature of building.

"The initiatives announced by Industry Minister Ian McFarlane are in line with Master Builders calls for a new apprenticeship model capable of tackling declining apprenticeship commencements and completions through more demand driven training relevant to the needs of employers, better career advice and pathway programs and apprentice mentoring which has a proven record of reducing apprenticeship cancellations.

"Replacing red tape hotspots with the Australian Apprenticeship Support Network to provide practical support to employers and apprentices will deliver positive outcomes for the industry."

These reforms build on the first round announced earlier this week to introduce the Australian Apprenticeship Support Network and to run two pilot programmes the Training for Employment Scholarships programme and the Youth Employment Pathways programme.

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Michael Lord | Monday, September 15, 2014, 11:30 AM
Red tape isn't the problem and it's not the answer! It's been a long term down grading of trades, add in selling off Government departments which deleted their Apprentice scheme. Then there has been the stripping out of the TAFE schemes forcing them to compete for money! Trade skills will continue to be lost until there is a true desire by Government and industry to do things correctly and not just at a cost!
Hedley | Monday, September 15, 2014, 3:57 PM
Thanks Michael. All of this is quite correct. But add to the Government department training, the excellent training schemes of Companies like Repco. Forty young people each year who in the main went on into Management, higher levels of engineering and service industry specialist positions including running family engineering businesses like mine. This training has now all gone. Forward to today's training, where small business faces a far greater rate of change than ever before, fights over the 17 year-olds to get them before a university does, then faces the uneconomic issue of training them. For those readers who believe that all apprentice training is done at TAFE or Uni, think again. What the "business training" has to do is the skills part. "Hands on" skills. One-on-one training in how to actually do the work and at an efficiency level that gets close to a realistic charge-out rate. Please also note that only last year I had to ask the local university why our apprentice, just finishing his fourth and final year, did not know the word "hypotenuse" as I attempted to explain thread cutting tools. Basic trigonometry and been "passed" on his second attempt said the uni head of department. That gets back to what small businesses are facing as we look at the economic picture we face and the direction being taken to address training as "others" see it. Sorry, but I'm with Michael; and I have made the point that our current "schooling" has failed and continues to fail to address these problems. It appears to have commenced when the schools stopped examinations? Well guess what? Business has been covering for these issues by doing training in-house and we are fed up with non-conformance of schools at all levels. Any comments out there?