21/05/2008 - 22:00

Apprenticeship bill after flexibility

21/05/2008 - 22:00

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Employers will have more influence over the content and duration of apprenticeships in their industry, if new legislation introduced by the state government is passed.

Employers will have more influence over the content and duration of apprenticeships in their industry, if new legislation introduced by the state government is passed.

The bill will make a number of changes to the way apprenticeships and traineeships are set up and managed, in an effort to make Western Australia's's training system more flexible.

Under the new legislation, industry groups and unions will make a greater contribution to drafting training policy, both creating and amending course content.

The system will also be more streamlined, reducing multiple training contracts to just one contract.

There is also special protection for employees, such as a clause preventing employers from unfairly terminating the contracts of apprentices and trainees in on-thejob training.

All employees at a Certificate III level or higher will be covered by the clause.

As part of the changes, the State Training Board will be charged with compiling a state training plan, and will be able to make recommendations to the education minister.

State Training Board chairman Keith Spence said industry groups and unions would have a more direct role in determining the direction of training under the new model, which would help to modernise the system.

"There's a lot more flexibility and for the first time, if individuals and unions agree that an existing apprenticeship or traineeship should be retained, the minister will be able to respond," Mr Spence said.

Meanwhile, the State Training Board has won a boost in state government funding, as part of a restructure of its subsidiary groups.

Under the new framework, 14 industry advisory bodies will be consolidated into 10 training councils, which will share an annual funding pool of $2.2 million, up from $1.8 million.

The funding model has also been revised, with funds to be allocated according to the number of employees an industry has, the amount of training delivered, and the economic contribution of the industry.

While the original aim of the restructure was to reduce the number of councils to seven, rather than 10, Mr Spence said it was a good outcome.

"We've also tried to organise ourselves in line with the national training bodies, and we've increased the scope of some training councils," he said.

"Each council will be getting a substantially greater amount [of funding] and will be better off under the merger, which provides an incentive for them." WA will also have a greater input to training policy at a federal level, with Mr Spence being appointed to the federal government's new statutory body, Skills Australia, last month.

He will be the only WA representative on the board.

"I think it's good for WA.

We have substantially different requirements to New South Wales or Victoria, being a resources-based economy, and it's important that our specific issues get aired," Mr Spence said.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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