$9 million plan to reform apprenticeship system

A new Engineering Excellence in Apprenticeships project announced by the Minister for Tertiary Education and Skills, Senator Chris Evans, is likely set to reshape Australia's apprenticeship system.

With the new apprenticeship system, a four- year apprenticeship such as engineering or electrical could be completed in three years depending on the trainee and his/her competency level to meet the professional requisites.

As many as 3,000 apprentices will benefit from this national competency based learning system.

The Gillard government is investing millions of dollars in this project so that Australia will have sufficient skilled workers to meet the needs of mining industry and the resources boom.

The AI Group will collaborate with Gillard government in this $9 million scheme. Canberra will contribute $5.3 million while the AI Group will put in $3.7 million to ensure its success reports the Herald Sun.

"These reforms will be a win for apprentices, employers and the economy,'' Evans said.

Evans explained that concept of a four year apprenticeship is outdated in the modern economy. The completion rate is only around 50 per cent and it fails to attract people for undertaking an apprenticeship.

Innes Willox, chief executive, Ai Group, said, “For too many years, apprentice arrangements have been based on the time based arrangements of yesteryear. The new model will break through the old approach in a new way that will benefit all. “

Willox believes that government and industry have been "tinkering around the edges for too many years''.

The new approach to apprenticeships comes as major resources firms are seeking foreign "guest'' labour to work on some of the country's biggest projects.

The government says that through the new approach to apprenticeship system it aims to ensure there are enough domestic workers to meet the need for skilled labour.