||Issue No. 240||01 October 2004|
The Premiership Quarter
Interview: The Last Bastian
Unions: High and Dry
Security: Liquid Borders
Industrial: No Bully For You
History: Radical Brisbane
International: No Vacancies
Economics: Life After Capitalism
Technology: Cyber Winners
Poetry: Do It Yourself Poetry
Review: Hard Labo(u)r
The Locker Room
How To Run Society
Dumbing Down The Trades
AMWU National President Julius Roe says Howard's plan to hand training over to employers would lead to poor quality education focused on the needs to individual businesses rather than on turning out well rounded tradespeople.
"Recent announcements by the Federal Government have favoured short term, narrower trade training, which will lead to mechanics who can't fix the whole car, just part of the car," says Roe.
Over the last decade the AMWU has fought to get trade qualifications recognised across state boundaries and to establish a national training system. But the Howard plan would see separate entities deciding on their own courses for the skilled trades.
If the looming skills crisis is to be averted, Roe believes resources need to be shifted from short term low quality training and into high quality training and nationally recognised qualifications in the manufacturing industry.
Recent ACTU research has shown in the next decade there will be a national shortage of 250,000 traditional trades apprentices which will cost the economy $9 billion in lost opportunities.
Unions have criticised Howard because though "traineeship" numbers have increased many are not in traditional trades, but in new areas such as retail, clerical, tourism and hospitality.
In addition, many perspective apprentices fail to qualify for government training subsidies because they have already done much shorter "apprenticeships" at fast food shops or retail stores.
As a consequence traditional trades have had trouble attracting candidates, especially in printing, metal and electrical occupations.
To address the crisis Roe says pay rates and career opportunities for youngsters entering the trades need to be increased.
"Many of these young people can earn more working casually at a fast food store than in the first years on an apprenticeship," says Roe.
Roe believes there also needs to be a systematic program in schools to encourage trade training and careers.
"We need technical schools of the future, involving all states and territories, which offer real opportunities for school students who wish to enter quality education and training pathways, including careers in the trades," he says.
Roe says University research shows privatisation and labour market deregulation are the biggest causes of falling traditional apprenticeship training.
In the 1970's thousands of tradesmen came our to local and state government workshops every year, and the private sector keenly snapped up the finished product.
But with the rush to privatise government enterprises in the 1980's came accountants who transformed apprentices from investments into costs.
"It is quite clear private industry has woken up to the fact these policies which were advocated by business are now creating a major skills shortage."
"What is needed is an industry plan for the manufacturing sector.
"The solution of these problems are not quick fixes but proper interventionary arrangements to lift the amount of training and investment by government and employers," says Roe.
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