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Ai Group to drive major reform of apprenticeship system

The Australian Industry Group is to lead a major national project with the potential to reshape Australia's apprenticeship system.

The Commonwealth-funded project seeks to drive the reform through implementing genuine competency-based progression and completion arrangements for the engineering trades. Over 3,000 apprentices nationally will benefit from this rollout.

Ai Group is creating a model whereby apprentices progress through all components of their apprenticeship both on-the-job and off-the-job by demonstrating competency and proficiency along the way.

"Despite years of reform in the training system, apprenticeship arrangements have continued to be bound by the time-based arrangements of yesteryear," said Ai Group Chief Executive Innes Willox.

Employers will have a key role in determining and confirming competency, thereby ensuring real work practices are embedded into the apprenticeship model.

Industry confidence in the quality of assessment outcomes will be critical to achieving success. In order to clearly demonstrate achievement of the requisite standards, external assessment validation utilising tools developed by the National Quality Council will occur across all trial sites.

The concept of excellence will be embedded at all stages of the project. This model is expected to deliver work-ready apprentices.

Ai Group has long advocated for competency progression arrangements in apprenticeships. "We championed award changes in 2006 to the then Metals Industries Award (now the Modern Manufacturing Award) designed to allow apprentices to progress through their pay structure on the basis of competency achievement.." said Wilcox. This remains the only modern Award which provides for genuine competency based progression for apprentices.

Ten registered training providers across six states will be involved in this project over a three year period. All Registered Training Organisations have committed to this new approach across their entire cohort of apprentices in the engineering trades.

This project will be complemented by two further projects. The first project will provide nine Manufacturing Apprenticeship Advisers to promote and facilitate uptake in key trades in the manufacturing and engineering industries.

The advisers will be based in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Wollongong, Newcastle, Albury/Wodonga, Ballarat and Bendigo.

New apprentices will be supported by four Apprenticeship Mentors, focusing upon supported and development of success strategies to assist successful outcomes for individuals, as well as lifting overall completion rates.

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