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Getting the right fit for apprenticeships

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The National Electrical and Communications Association (NECA) chief executive Suresh Manickam says ongoing debate about declining apprenticeship numbers and the level of government funding in the training system ignore the reality the situation.

“While the decline in apprenticeship numbers is concerning, that’s not the complete picture when it comes to getting the right outcomes from the vocational education and training (VET) sector. One of the significant problems of the previous VET sector model was that the wrong students were being signed up to the wrong courses, funded by a seemingly endless supply of taxpayer dollars,” says Suresh.

Suresh says more needs to be done to attract the best person for the right apprenticeship.

“The newly adopted model will prove successful if the training can deliver the skills and competencies to apprentices and trainees who fit the future job role, complete their training and skilling with competence and go on to achieving a fulfilling and ongoing career path,” says Suresh.

“Electrotechnology remains one of the more interesting and fulfilling career paths and our sector requires a steady and ongoing stream of appropriately skilled electricians to fill the gaps left by retiring and highly skilled workers. However, we continue to suffer from lower levels of apprenticeship take-up with women and mature-aged workers.”

In 2016, female trade commencements made up just 12% of total apprenticeship commencements Australia-wide, while mature aged workers made up just over 20%.

“NECA argues that more needs to be done to understand an apprentice’s suitability or readiness to become a long-term success within our sector. Readiness and aptitude tests are examples of the types of understanding future employers require to take on apprentices. We believe the debate should be pointed more towards readiness and suitability, not just not raw numbers,” says Suresh.

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