Government backs apprentices

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“Changes to the industry will encourage further development of the apprenticeships system, and it will help lock in and further improve results for learners and their employers.”
That was the closing comment by Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Steven Joyce at the recent Industry Training Federation annual conference in Wellington.
By and large, this is good news for the construction industry.

As part of its ongoing review of apprentice training, the Government has recently released a consultation paper outlining proposed changes, due to take effect from 2014.
The BCITO will be engaging with the industry so that it can respond to the proposal in the current six-week consultation period.
So far the review has focused on trying to make industry training more efficient, given that 70% of the cost of an apprenticeship is funded by the Government.

The idea is to get more people into training, and more people completing their training with good skills to show at the end.
The consultation paper goes into detail of what an ITO should be doing to support training — and the BCITO’s model of training advisors supporting apprentices and their employers fits well with the Government’s plans.
Of course there’s always room for improvement, and the BCITO will take this opportunity to look at how it can lift its game.

One issue the consultation paper looks at closely is Modern Apprenticeships. At present, some people registered as Modern Apprentices have an extra Modern Apprenticeship co-ordinator, who visits them in much the same way as BCITO training advisors do.
The BCITO will be seeking the opinions of its employers and apprentices as to whether there is a need to have an extra co-ordinator, or whether extra support from BCITO training advisors will be enough.

Whatever the outcome, all apprentices will eventually have the same high level of support, which is a great outcome.
The only proposed change that could worry industry is around training carried out off site. The Government wants to make it possible for learners to complete their trade training in a simulated classroom environment, such as in a polytech.

This could have the effect of some tradespeople being qualified without gaining much onsite experience. Again, the BCITO will be asking employers across the country how they feel about this.
More information on the Government’s review of industry training is available at www.bcito.org.nz under the “Industry” heading.

The Government’s consultation document is also available, and there are instructions within on how to respond. Any BCITO apprentice or employer is encouraged to voice their opinions and concerns on the proposal.