Apprenticeship agreement finalised

Sweeping reforms to building industry apprenticeships have belatedly been finalised after industry groups and the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union reached agreement on technical definitions. The details of the reforms were negotiated prior to Christmas, but their implementation was delayed by the disagreement over some definitions. The key reforms will reduce the standard duration of building industry apprenticeships from four years to three years, while “housing” apprenticeships will be reduced to two years. Premier Alan Carpenter and education and training minister Ljiljanna Ravlich said the reforms constituted “the biggest changes to Western Australia’s apprenticeship system in almost a century”. The CFMEU had been pushing for the agreement to include a definition of the term “residential”, to clarify the treatment of multi-storey apartment projects. Instead the agreement simply refers to “housing”, without a definition. The state government also committed to ensuring the two- year apprenticeships only apply to housing. It is notable the agreement was reached just prior to this week’s introduction of the federal government’s WorkChoices industrial relations package, which has taken the setting of most apprenticeship wages out of the state arena.

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