Don’t put it off

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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.’’

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