Tradies have raised concerns about a South Australian government proposal to introduce a dual trade combining electrical skills with refrigeration and air conditioning qualifications.

There are concerns the proposal could undermine the RAC trade.

Technicians told CCN there are plenty of examples in other states where plumbing and electrical trades have dominated with very little recognition given to RAC.

Under the proposal, prospective electrical refrigeration technicians will complete both electrical and refrigeration/air conditioning qualifications concurrently.

The State Government’s Training and Skills Commission is acting on industry feedback to introduce this new dual trade pathway.

An Australian first, this new trade was developed in consultation with the SA/NT chapter of the National Electrical and Communications Association (NECA), and addresses demand for broader skill sets in this specialised industry.

Minister for Innovation and Skills, David Pisoni, said the qualification sets a new benchmark in Australia for the delivery of trade qualifications in two disciplines, and establishes a pilot model for additional dual trade pathways in the future.

“An innovative approach to apprenticeship delivery, the dual trade qualification is designed to increase productivity and capability for businesses, who can in turn offer customers a broader range of services,” he said.

“For some time now the refrigeration and air-conditioning sector has reported a shortage of electrical refrigeration technicians who are fully skilled and licensed in both the electrical and refrigeration trades.

“Despite both qualifications being in demand, until now the only way to resolve this issue was by people completing two apprenticeships – a pathway that can take up to eight years.

“Through concurrent delivery of the training, it is intended that the dual trade qualification can be achieved in just five years, making the new apprenticeship attractive to both employees and employers.”

NECA’s executive director, Larry Moore, said the dual trade pathway would address demand for broader skills sets in the industry providing greater efficiencies and productivity for industry.

“We’ve worked closely with the State Government to develop this dual trade apprenticeship, and we’re excited to see this implemented so that our members can benefit from having multiskilled workers to grow their businesses,” Moore said.

A pilot project will be established during the first stage of implementation, with a small number of apprentices commencing in early 2021.

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