Skills rethink urged on apprenticeships nationally
THE national apprenticeship system must be reformed or risk critical trades shortages due to poor completion rates and national inconsistency, according to the Australian Industry Group.
AIG is a peak industry body representing the interests of more than 60,000 businesses across a range of industry sectors including manufacturing, construction, labour hire and engineering.
AIG chief executive Innes Willox said the skills developed and nurtured within an apprenticeship become the essential and highly valued trade, technical and business skills that underpin a large segment of the Australian economy.
"We need to be doing more as a country to lift these skills to ensure we meet current and future demand," Mr Willox said.
"The apprenticeship system is also under strain due to a number of structural challenges: national inconsistency, poor completion rates, persistence of time-served rather than competency-based approaches to delivery and the future application of the pathway in an increasingly knowledge-based economy."
Research conducted by AIG indicates a flat-lining of apprentice numbers - according to the report, the most common intention of companies (60.5%) is to maintain current apprentice numbers. Companies reported the most significant skills shortage as being trades and technical workers (33%).
Given that, businesses are left in something of a Catch 22 - many aren't prepared to take on apprentices, but are still struggling to find skilled tradespeople.
"All of these business concerns affect the future growth and health of the apprenticeship system," Mr Willox said.
"The lack of a genuine national system is a major frustration to employers, especially those that operate on a national basis or in multiple states. There needs to be national consistency.
"At the centre of current challenges is the long term drift away in focus from employers and apprentices, to the training provider.
"One of Ai Group's key recommendations in this report is the need to reverse this and empower the core relationship between employers and apprentices. This would be best served by establishing the employer as the primary customer of the Registered Training Organisations rather than the funding authority."
Information and Communications Technology Apprenticeship Program
APPLICATIONS for the 2014 Australian Government Information and Communications Technology Apprenticeship Program are open now.
The program is an annual recruitment initiative aimed at building the capability of the ICT workforce in the Australian Government and provides the opportunity for people who are interested in a career in ICT to learn technical skills and theories, as well as gain a formal qualification and valuable workplace experience.
The Australian Workforce and Productivity Agency ICT Workforce Study 2013 shows that in 2011 only 37% of ICT graduates aged 20 to 29 were employed in the industry. This is, in part, due to a limited number of ICT entry level jobs available for people without any work experience.
The ICT Apprenticeship Program is for people with little or no formal ICT experience. ICT apprentices work full-time in an Australian Government agency and study part-time to attain a Certificate IV or Diploma in ICT.
Their qualification is paid for by their agency and they receive paid study leave to attend classes.
Applications for the 2014 programs are open until Monday, August 5. Positions are available in Canberra, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide.