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The The NSW Utilities & Electrotechnology Industry Training Advisory Body has raised some serious concerns over the Green Paper, highlighting the Commission’s recommendations to open up pathways into Trade Occupations. 

One particular statement that raised industry hackles was Commissioner Peter Achterstraat’s observation that apprenticeships were “outdated, barriers were to high and the old model of training is a closed shop even to people who want to get into it and despite the fact some skilled jobs have had a shortage of workers for most of the last 30 years”.

The NSW UE ITAB in response to the commentary and Green Paper, in its 25th News Service said that many occupational learning processes are very different to those of universities, whereclassroom learning is conducted all up front.

“Subsequently, successful individuals who get a testamur for attendance are able to seek employment in a closely allied or in some cases a different field of work,” said Tony Palladino, Executive Officer NSW U&E ITAB.

“That might work in that context but not another context such as VET where the learning and the requirements of the job outcome are purpose built.  There are countless examples of where such ideas, promoted by the Commission and the Commissioner, that have been tried and failed and employers left with employees having to be retrained.

"The notion proposed by the Commission, of all up front training as a silver bullet solution is naïve and a poorly researched approach, and one that appears more about cost efficiencies than real learning that advantages the learner and the potential employer, as well as the economy.  Skill shortages are not always about barriers there are other factors at play, and the Commission could have done itself and the community a favour a done more serious research how VET works for industry.”

The recommendations of concern are 3.2, which state the following:

Introduce two new and more flexible pathways to trades qualifications:

                1.            one for HSC-holders (two years or less), and 

                2.            one for mature-aged workers (18 months or less).

Additionally:

  •  Incentivise registered training organisations to develop more flexible modes of course delivery, including after-hours learning and short intensive periods of full-time study.
  •  Establish a Training and Skills Recognition Centre to implement the new training pathways, starting in the construction sector.
  • Regulate to allow employment of unqualified juniors (those below 21 years of age) in a recognised trade vocation outside an apprenticeship, provided they have completed, or are enrolled in the relevant trades qualification.
  • Endorse a marketing campaign to raise the profile and awareness of new trades pathways.

“The proposed recommendations might have some plausibility in some vocations, but not so in well established Traditional Trades,” said Palladino. “The proposed recommendations will do nought to improve numbers or their attractiveness to males or females in the longer term. The central issue has been completely missed by the Commission. However, such suggestions may develop their own momentum and get to become government policy, albeit based on a false premise”.

To this end, Palladino and the NSW U&E ITAB are encouraging everyone in the HVAC&R industry to make their opinions plain by commenting on the draft recommendations.

If you want to comment on any of these hot-button issues for the HVAC&R industry, you can make your submission online until Friday, 18 September.

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