New apprenticeships allow accelerated learning in metals and engineering

Challenger Institute of Technology’s new apprenticeships in metals and engineering are giving apprentices the opportunity to save time by accelerating their learning.

The Challenger SMART apprenticeship program utilises existing skills, industrial experience and knowledge to allow apprentices to complete their apprenticeships based on competency, rather than time served.

Challenger Institute’s director of training services in the metals and engineering area, Greg Guppy, said that these new delivery and assessment methods in apprenticeship training were Challenger’s way of adapting to the needs of industry.

“Traditionally the formal training component for apprenticeships has been three to four years. However, Challenger’s new SMART apprenticeships program recognises the important contribution employers make by training and mentoring apprentices within the workplace.”

Initially, 28 fabrication apprentices attending Challenger participated in the scheme to enable them to gain their competencies at an accelerated rate. This year that number has increased by more than 60 per cent.

This group of apprentices were selected on merit in consultation with their employer after demonstrating excellence in their training.

“Generations X, Y and “I” respond well to a merit-based assessment and reward approach. The SMART model is a good fit with their generational values,” Guppy explained.

Training is delivered in a unique ‘tag’ method that allows designated lecturers to mentor SMART apprentices from the day they commence their vocation through to the awarding of their trade certification.

The lecturers coach and deliver training cooperatively with employers, ensuring that the learning is supported in the workplace.

Guppy said the SMART apprenticeship represented a unique partnership between the employer and Challenger Institute.

“It’s a negotiated training regime between the employer and Challenger Institute to ensure no duplication of effort and it also reflects the skillset required by the enterprise,” Guppy continued.

“The program is designed for high achievers. The apprentices suitable for the SMART scheme will show initiative, be motivated, have a high work ethic and display a willingness to participate and maintain the program ideals of accelerated learning.”

“Ideally, the employers of apprentices participating in the program should be able to provide a high level of support and mentoring within the workplace. They should be supportive of flexible release patterns, such as multiple weeks at the beginning of the contract and the early completion of the training contract.”

Guppy said the program will see apprentices re-enter the workforce as highly competitive and productive employees.

The Challenger SMART apprenticeships program is a part of the Accelerated Australian Apprenticeships initiative.

This Australian Government initiative has been allocated $100 million in funding for its rollout, making it an integral part of the Government’s 2011 Building Australia’s Future Workforce package.