Industry welcomes training reforms

11/06/2008 - 22:00

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State government reforms to improve Western Australia's training system have received industry support, with more competency-based training and funding for the private sector expected to improve flexibility.

Industry welcomes training reforms

State government reforms to improve Western Australia's training system have received industry support, with more competency-based training and funding for the private sector expected to improve flexibility.

Central to the government's reforms is a new bill to amend two pieces of existing legislation, due to come up for debate in parliament shortly.

It includes a greater role for competency based training in apprenticeships.

In addition, the State Training Board's advisory bodies will be consolidated from 14 to 10 councils, with industry able to have a direct input in drafting policy through a position on the board.

The government has also allocated extra funding for private training providers with apprenticeship programs, increasing the pool from $36 million to $57 million, on top of a base of $20 million.

Education Minister Mark McGowan told WA Business News he hoped the legislation would be in place by the end of the year, with the other reforms to be implemented shortly.

"Industry has been calling for some of these things, particularly the reforms to the legislation for a very long period of time," he said.

Mr McGowan said the extra funding for private providers would improve competition with the Tafe sector, as well as assisting operators in filling the gaps in training, particularly in regional areas.

"We've tried to make it so that those innovative training providers can now have a bigger pool of money to compete for," he said.

"It will mean that Tafe and private providers are competing, and it will mean that Tafe...will be more efficient and effective."

Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association people and security director, Don Sanders, said the move towards greater competency based training and streamlining of training councils would be welcomed by industry.

"I think it makes a bit more sense to get alignment between the state training councils and the industry training councils nationally," Mr Sanders said.

Of particular interest to the oil and gas sector is the possibility of a resources training council, which would be a joint venture between APPEA and the Chamber of Minerals and Energy.

Mr Sanders said negotiations were continuing, but he was hopeful the council would be formed as part of the training board restructure.

Northam-based training body Directions WA is one group likely to benefit from additional private funding, which it will direct into its other operations in Merredin and Narrogin, as well as Midland.

Chief executive Larry Davies said the funding would help service delivery in regional areas, particularly where local businesses needed to provide their infrastructure for training purposes.

"The increase in funding to private providers, particularly for apprentices and trainees, is certainly a move in the right direction," Mr Davies said.

"We'll be able to improve the level of service in the regions, without having to send kids to Perth."

Mr Davies, who is also the WA representative on the board of the Australian Council for Private Education and Training, said a shortage of infrastructure was a major issue for trainers in areas such as the Wheatbelt and the Kimberley.

According to the Australian Council for Private Education and Training, about $150 million is invested by the private sector in training each year.

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