Don’t put it off
ACT NOW: Second-year apprentice Jae Amos has already started his career in a trade. JOBSEEKERS considering an apprenticeship are encouraged to apply now, despite proposed reforms promising more pay and fast-tracked qualifications for apprentices who postpone their training.
Group Training Australia chief executive Jim Barron says those passionate about becoming tradies will look at the bigger picture and not be swayed by the possibility of better incentives in the future.
‘‘ Those reforms . . . have been in the pipeline for a number of years, as have a number of iterations of the fast-tracking (of qualifications),’’ he says.
‘‘ I would never say to anybody hold off (on starting an apprenticeship for) six months or a year because something else might be happening down the track – something is always happening down the track.
‘‘ People that choose to do an apprenticeship, be it a bricklayer or a cook or whatever, believe this is a good pathway for them.
‘‘ They don’t do it because they think I’m going to do this in two years, rather than three. They do it because they can see the long-term benefit.’’
The Federal Government last year outlined its plan to move to a national apprenticeship scheme, instead of the present state-by-state framework.
Under the changes, apprentices would move to competency-based training, rather than the current system where apprentices training for the same qualification take two years in some states and four years in others.
Fair Work Australia will be granted powers to review apprentice wages and the Commonwealth will support a substantial increase in pay levels, particularly for early year apprentices, who currently receive as little as $10 an hour.
Barron hopes the reforms will be implemented by year’s end but does not expect changes to be retrospective, potentially disadvantaging 400,000 apprentices now completing qualifications.
‘‘ A contract that is already under way means the employer and that apprentice have a contractual agreement that goes to the completion of the traineeship,’’ he says.
‘‘ So once you’ve started that contractual agreement, my understanding is it can’t be changed.’’
Jae Amos, 20, is a refrigeration mechanic apprentice with beer-tap manufacturer Hoshizaki Lancer.
He is in the second year of a four-year apprenticeship so will not benefit from the apprenticeship reforms but believes he is better off gaining his qualification under the current system.
‘‘ Even if I could speed it up I would probably still want to do it over the whole four years. I didn’t know anything about the trade when I first started . . . I definitely didn’t know the places it would take me.
‘‘ Spreading things over the four years gives me a better understanding of the whole industry.’’