A new Australian Apprenticeship Support Network will commence from 1 July 2015 to drive employment opportunities and apprenticeship completion rates, which sit at around 50 per cent.
The Government said apprentices will be assisted in finding an employer to begin their apprenticeship and receive mentoring and career advice with support outside their workplace throughout their apprenticeship.
The Network will replace the current Australian Apprenticeships Centres and reduce red tape and paperwork when connecting employers, particularly small business and apprentices.
The Government says the Network will also undertake community employment outreach by working with employers, industry groups and local chambers of commerce to identify job opportunities and employer skills needs.
A report by The Guardian says the number of centres (currently around 300) may be reduced and the allocated $200m in annual funding is less than the slated $219m for financial year 14/15 and $211 for the remainder of the budget period.
Industry seems mostly supportive of the announcements with the CEO of Master Builders Australia saying: “The initiatives announced by Industry Minister Ian McFarlane are in line with Master Builders calls for a new apprenticeship model,”.
Australian Industry Group (AIG) Chief Executive, Innes Willox saying: “Australia needs more apprentices now and the best way to do this and make sure our skills needs of the future are met is through an employer driven model.”
An AIG statement said the system will help achieve the right skills for young people and employers to fuel innovative and competitive companies.
A tender process will result in a comprehensive suite of services for more than 100,000 employers of apprentices delivered by a series of network providers.
There will be no cost for apprentices or businesses to access the Network.
The changes are a part of the Commonwealth Government’s greater VET reforms that include the already announced $20,000 Trade Support Loans along with increased training costs and a reduction in subsidies and increasingly, the privatisation of training.
The Australian Apprenticeship Support Network will:
- Connect apprentices and employers through targeted job-matching;
- Provide advice about different course options and training delivery options;
- Deliver personalised mentoring and support to apprentices;
- Provide advice to businesses taking on apprentices, including their roles and responsibilities; manage the administration of an apprenticeship including the training contract;
- Administer the Australian Apprenticeships Incentives Program including employer incentives and trade support loans.
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