Business organisations should provide one-stop service for apprentices

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Business organisations should provide one-stop service for apprentices

The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry has welcomed the focus on streamlining and simplifying the apprenticeship system in its response to ‘A shared responsibility — Apprenticeships for the 21st Century’, the final report by the government’s expert panel on apprenticeships, and has proposed a new model for service delivery.

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The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) has welcomed the focus on streamlining and simplifying the apprenticeship system in its response to A shared responsibility — Apprenticeships for the 21st Century, the final report by the government’s expert panel on apprenticeships, and has proposed a new model for service delivery.
 
ACCI has proposed a one-stop-shop model of up-front service delivery for apprentices and their employers, delivered around the country by on-the-ground business organisations, as an initiative aimed to:
  • make apprenticeships viable in a wider range of workplaces
  • reduce transaction costs and red tape when investigating and entering apprenticeships
  • better understand career pathways and skills gaps.
 
Chief Executive Peter Anderson said that ACCI’s recommendations followed extensive consultations with industry bodies, employer feedback and industry research, including a National Workplace Skills Survey, and earlier assessments of apprenticeship completions and mature-aged apprenticeships.
 
ACCI’s response also uses its recently launched Service Industries Blueprint to profile how structured training, including the apprenticeship system, also needs to be funded and designed to meet the emerging skills needs of non-traditional occupations in the expanding service and knowledge industries.
 
Reject levy
 
Speaking in Canberra this week, Anderson said:
‘The needs of Australian business, as the primary employers of apprentices and trainees, must be the central focus point of reform. The recommended overhaul is a once in a decade opportunity to streamline pathways to bring the apprenticeship system up-to-date with the modern economy and our complex labour market. System design must be industry led, with minimum red tape, robust standards, targeted funding and education and bureaucratic systems responsive to the real clients — prospective employers and their apprentices.
 
Unworkable and potentially harmful recommendations, such as the recycled idea of a compulsory levy across all employers, are a distraction that would divide and derail reform, and have been rightly rejected by government.’
Mr Anderson also explained that:
‘Imposing an additional financial burden on employers at a time when all effort must be made to maximise skills development is counterproductive. The training effort must be driven by business demand and targeted in areas that will increase business productivity and workplace efficiency and ultimately lead to increased business viability and the retention of skilled staff. A levy would also introduce a negative price signal that discouraged taking on an apprentice, especially in a business that can only afford one or two new staff and not attract a rebate.’
The recent ACCI National Workplace Skills Survey of Australian employers found that more than 90% of businesses contribute financially to training staff. The survey also found that employers make significant and undervalued investments in terms of providing paid time-off for study, course fee subsidisation and supervisory costs.
 
ACCI’s response also points to significant potential harm to be done to the training effort if incentives for entry level traineeships were redirected:
‘Traineeships in these areas are career options in their own right and also entry level stepping stones for young people, Indigenous Australians and other groups. Redirecting incentives would serve to stifle productivity and employment growth by starving businesses of the incentive to train, thus creating future skills shortages.’
ACCI’s full response to the Expert Panel Report can be found on the ACCI website and the DEEWR website.
 
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