||Issue No. 203||14 November 2003|
Beyond the Workplace
Interview: Union for the Dispossessed
Unions: Joel's Law
National Focus: Spring Carnival
Bad Boss: Fina and Fiends
Industrial: The Price of War
Economics: Who's Got What
History: Containing Discontent
Review: An Honourable Wally
Poetry: The Colours of Discontent
Perils Of Pauline
Put A PM On The Barbie
Tom Holds Water
Death By A Thousand Cuts
The PSA says standards for apprentices will be eroded by moves to cut a quarter of State Training Services field staff - the people who monitor and regulate apprentices, trainees and their employers-.
"It is unbelievable that at the very time WorkCover's accreditation failures and scandals are before an ICAC inquiry, education management is planning to loosen controls over training and accreditation', says John Cahill, General Secretary of the Public Service Association.
State Training Services provides advice to people who may find themselves in inappropriate training arrangements. It also provides support for employers who find they can no longer deal with their trainees and apprentices who have gone off the rails.
"State Training Services makes a very real contribution to keeping all players honest and to providing accountability for expenditure from the public purse," says Cahill. "The proposed 25 percent reduction in field services staff will have a significant impact on the quality and regulation of training provided to apprentices and trainees"
The Industry Training Service Centres are the only body of people in NSW who are charged with particular responsibilities under the Apprenticeship and Traineeship Act, 2001 including:
* ensuring/confirming the capacity of employers to train for all declared trades and callings;
* ensuring/confirming the competency of those emerging from their apprenticeships and traineeships;
* issuing all "trade & calling" qualifications in NSW;
* assessing and reporting to Vocational Training Tribunals on the adequacy of trades and callings training (especially in the workplace);
* assessing and reporting to "Trade Recognition Tribunals" -- qualifying, quantifying & validating applicants' experience, on-the-job training and current level of competence -- to enable the Tribunals to properly determine the issue of a trade qualification
When there are abuses in the training systems the field staff are the people who find them and deal with them. Examples of abuse dealt with by field staff include:
* A national tyre franchisee employing apprentices across NSW as spare parts interpreters. Actual job was tyre fitting. No apprenticeship training from the employer or registered training organisation. There was no trade work available at any site.
* Apprentices and trainees left without supervisors.
* Electrical and automotive apprentices signed up to the wrong trade to match the off-the-job training, not what is happening on the job.
* Apprentice carpenters building roof trusses on production lines.
* A company with 40 staff are all signed up as trainees. When the company is investigated it is found that several are not actually working in NSW, one was working in New Zealand.
* Group training companies suspending apprentices for months at a time - some sought times in excess of 12 months - and not advising the apprentices of their options or advising the department that no training is taking place.
"When the Apprenticeship and Traineeship Act was a Bill in 2001, the unions of NSW spoke strongly of the need to maintain the integrity of training in NSW and the role of the independent umpire," says Mr Cahill. "It is difficult to see how either can be maintained with the current proposals."
Education cuts target children with disabilities
Meanwhile PSA General Secretary John Cahill today called on the NSW Education and Training Minister, Dr Andrew Refshauge, to recognise the vital role of educational support staff of the Department of Education and Training in delivering a program to assist community-based early intervention services for young children with disabilities.
Mr Cahill demanded the government maintain these important community services and reverse the planned job cuts in its misnamed Lifelong Learning restructure.
The Intervention Support Program administers $10 million of Commonwealth funds, which are used to support approximately 6,000 young children with disabilities and 500 community-based pre-schools, long day care centres and early intervention services including the major peak disability organisations. The community-based services to be affected include those provided by local councils.
The Association yesterday wrote to affected organisations, urging them to complain to the Minister about the cuts.
The program helps supports the cost of educational services for children in non-profit early childhood settings, children and adolescents in residential care, and capital grants for non-government centres to benefit children and students with disabilities.
"The community has a right to expect that these important community services will be maintained at their current level, especially with all of the news about childcare centres failing to meet appropriate standards for children without special needs. None of the position cuts to this important community service area of the Department of Education and Training can be justified, especially after job cuts in previous restructures".
Staff of the Intervention Support Program, one of four program areas of the Community Grants Unit, learned on September 24 of the loss of two of their four dedicated staff members plus vital administrative support clerks for all four programs.
"Dr Refshauge has said that the 1,000 job cuts announced in June were about slashing non-essential 'bureaucratic' jobs but it's not true. The only "fat" to cut in the Department of Education and Training is in the ranks of senior bureaucrats, but these positions have been increased in the proposed new structure, while educational support staff are been cut back drastically", said Cahill.
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