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Time to invest in proven approaches to arrest the decline in apprenticeships

22-Jun-2015

Declining apprenticeship numbers across Australia are a concern and highlight the need for ongoing investment and policy focus on developing a genuine training culture in schools and workplaces, according to Australia’s largest employer network of apprentices and trainees.

Group Training Australia (GTA) said that the fall in apprenticeships over 2014, as revealed by the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER), points to several areas for improvement in the way skills and training are promoted and implemented.

The Chief Executive of GTA, Jim Barron, said the choice of a career in the trades needs to be given greater priority as a genuine choice for all school leavers.

“Despite much effort, many schools, students and parents have their sights set on university, and tend to regard a vocational career as a second choice,” Mr Barron said.

“The status of an apprenticeship should be seen as equivalent to a university education, just as it is in a country such as Germany where the priority on technical and trade skills is paramount,” he said.

The article (June 3) in The Daily Telegraph highlights the concerns of some employers regarding the apprenticeship system, where there are dropout rates of around 50 per cent and worries that many young people are not suited to trades careers.

“The group training network collectively employed approximately 30,000 apprentices and trainees during 2014 and it sees the challenges faced by apprentices, trainees and their employers on a daily basis.

“It starts with providing realistic expectations about the opportunities and obligations of an apprenticeship, and matching entrants to the appropriate industry and employer.

“As with any newcomer to the workplace, there can be a host of issues for new apprentices and trainees that have to be addressed through ongoing mentoring and support over the course of their training,” Mr Barron said.

“The group training network has been undertaking this work for some 35 years and has seen numerous policy and program changes and expert reviews over that time, not all of which have produced positive outcomes.

“We continue to urge the Commonwealth to maintain a leadership role in the VET sector, given the importance of skills development as a national priority.

“We also believe that more can be done at the school level to introduce fresh thinking about the status and opportunity of apprenticeships.

“Group training organisations engage a network of field officers, mentors and counsellors, and are in a key position to support the wider uptake of apprenticeships, including school-based.

“By partnering with schools, employers and communities, GTOs are in a unique position to provide students with greater access to vocational learning and pathways through structured work exposure, exploration and applied learning opportunities.

“There is no magic bullet to address the decline in apprenticeships, but we should be investing in approaches that are proven, so that young people get the chance to develop skills that are good for our economy, the community and the individual,” Mr Barron said.

Media Contact: Bob Bowden, Foresight Communications 0412 753 298