Page 518 - Week 02 - Wednesday, 5 March 2008

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I officially launched two new fast-track apprenticeship courses. These new apprenticeship courses are being offered in the skill-shortage areas of panel beating and hairdressing.

The CIT’s innovative fast-track apprenticeships will ensure that ACT business operators continue to have access to the skilled workers they need and that our students can complete their apprenticeships up to 30 per cent faster. By shortening the length of the apprenticeship, while maintaining the quality of training, the CIT will get skilled workers into the workforce faster and make apprenticeship more appealing to mature aged students and those who are seeking a career change.

As always, the government and the CIT have been working closely with industry, through the hairdressing industry representative panel, to implement these fast-track apprenticeships. The panel held its initial meeting on Monday of this week and comprises a range of senior industry representatives as well as representatives from my Department of Education and Training and representatives from the Australian Workers Union. I thank members of the panel for their commitment to working with government to address local skills shortages.

The fast-track panel beating apprenticeship takes a different approach, by focusing on increasing the quality and quantity of on-the-job assessment. While off-the-job training is critical to the training process, it has been recognised by industry that, if on-the-job assessment could be better integrated into training, then competency could be better recognised and rewarded as it occurs.

Like the fast-track hairdressing apprenticeship, the panel beating apprenticeship also engages fully with industry. In this case, the industry representative group comprises senior representatives, including those from Insurance Australia Ltd, Craig Hall Bodyworks, Precision Panel, Moruya Smash Repairs and Tony Farrugia Bodyworks, amongst others. The program delivers fully qualified panel beaters onto the market at least one year earlier and possibly even up to two years earlier than the existing apprenticeship.

These innovations in apprenticeship training are based on the CIT’s fast-track apprenticeship program that we introduced in 2006. The accelerated chefs program enables apprentices to complete their training in two years instead of four.

The success of this program is partly why, just last week, the CIT won the 2007 Qantas Australian tourism award for the best tourism, education and training organisation in Australia for the second year in a row and for the fifth time overall. These fast-track apprenticeships are just part of what the ACT government and the CIT are doing to address the local impacts of the national skills shortage caused by 11 long years of underinvestment in education and training by the federal Liberal government.

Last year, I was able to launch the ACT’s first Australian school-based apprenticeship certificate level 3 in plumbing which provides students with the opportunity to start a plumbing apprenticeship while still completing their year 12 certificate. This program is also a partnership between the ACT government and, in this case, licensed

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