Australian Govt to announce two new pilots on Apprenticeship, encompass High-tech and High-pay

The Turnbull government is working with business to try out a new model of apprenticeships which will train young people in new technologies and give them a route to a high-paying professional career.

The government will announce two new pilot schemes on Monday, one with the Australian Industry Group to train apprentices in digitised manufacturing, and another with PricewaterhouseCoopers ( PwC ) to give apprentices a route to high-paying jobs in business, IT and professional services.

Assistant Vocational Education and Skills Minister Karen Andrews said it was essential to convince students that apprenticeships were a pathway to great careers. She is concerned that many of the likely growth areas in the economy such as professional, scientific and technical services, and new high technology industries, are not well served by the apprenticeship system.

Currently the number of apprentices are in decline, falling 10 per cent last year, as employers and young people question whether the traditional model meets the training needs for new economy jobs.

The two pilot schemes will deliver apprentices with higher level qualifications – diplomas and advanced diplomas – rather than the traditional certificate III or IV level qualification. The government believes that higher-level academic training can be combined with the industry exposure offered by a traditional apprenticeship.

Up to 20 apprentices will join the Ai Group’s trial which will train them in cutting-edge manufacturing technologies including 3D metal printing, machine vision and virtual reality. Ai Group will join with Siemens and SAP on the pilot project and the apprentices will be able to earn a diploma or associate diploma in applied technologies from Swinburne University, which will give them entry to a bachelor degree if they choose to take it.

“The aim is to create an apprenticeship model that will support the higher skills needed for the emerging fourth industrial revolution,” Innes Willox, the group’s chief executive, said.

The PwC trial will also offer apprentices a diploma level qualification or above, and participating employers will help design the program and give students on-the-job learning. “This program will help reinvigorate the apprenticeship agenda in Australia. We cannot wait to get started,” a PwC spokesperson said.

The two pilots are part of the government’s $9.2 million program for alternative delivery of apprenticeships and follow three other pilot schemes announced earlier this year. Federal opposition skills and apprenticeships spokesman Doug Cameron said the government should not be “chopping and changing” the way apprenticeships worked. He said the German system was an example of a stable, flexible system which Australia could learn from.

“This is really an unacceptable way to deal with such an important issue,” Senator Cameron said. “In my view this $9.2 million would have been better spent doing a proper analysis of apprenticeship training around the world to look at how to improve flexibility.”

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