$64 M program that supports the delivery of high quality competency-based vocational education and training, with a focus on Australian Apprenticeships.
The Accelerated Australian Apprenticeships initiative will support industry led projects that increase the delivery of high quality competency-based vocational education and training, with a focus on Australian Apprenticeships. This has the potential to provide more attractive apprenticeships pathways and will assist to expedite the supply of skilled workers demanded by employers and industry, while maintaining quality in training.
The overarching aim of the initiative is to support a systemic shift to competency-based progression and completion in vocational education and training with a focus on Australian Apprenticeships. The initiative aims to achieve this by supporting industry to develop and implement innovative strategies that embed and further the reach of competency-based progression.
Competency-based progression and completion in Australian Apprenticeships has the potential to provide more attractive apprenticeships pathways and will assist to expedite the supply of skilled workers demanded by employers and industry, while maintaining quality in training. Most modern awards continue to link wage progression to a time-served basis. The Government considers it important that wage setting arrangements for apprentices are consistent with training contracts and do not act as a disincentive to employers and employees adopting a flexible, competency‑based approach to training. To this end, the Government supports wage setting arrangements that provide that an apprentice is eligible to progress through wage levels upon the attainment of required competencies (competency-based wage progression).
The Australian Government encourages industry-led partnerships to deliver projects under the initiative in order to best respond to industry needs. As such, Australian Government funding for the initiative will be targeted to areas of current and emerging skills need in order to effectively support industry in changing economic conditions. While there is a focus on supporting industry‑led projects, funding could be available to enterprises or employers to support a response to emerging skills needs, particularly where an employer is taking on a large number of workers displaced by structural adjustment. Applications for funding under the Accelerated Australian Apprenticeships initiative must demonstrate how the proposed Project would link to and support workforce planning and development goals.
At any time during the life of the Accelerated Australian Apprenticeships initiative the Minister may nominate industries or sectors for prioritisation of funding. Decisions regarding the prioritisation of funding will be informed by advice from the Australian Workforce and Productivity Agency
The focus of the program is to fund projects that are industry-led to enable significant, sector wide strategies that support systemic change. However, it is possible that funding under the program would be granted for a Project where an employer is the Lead Organisation, as long as the proposed Project met the objectives of the program. This is likely to be the case only where the employer acting as the Lead Organisation has either partnered with other employers and stakeholders to deliver a project (for example, to support a regional response to support displaced workers affected by structural adjustment) or is a very large employer with a significant workforce of apprentices and the Project would act as a flagship initiative for that sector.
Funding provided under the Accelerated Australian Apprenticeships initiative must be used by successful Applicants to implement innovative ways to promote the broad adoption and implementation of competency-based progression and completion for Australian Apprenticeships while maintaining quality of training. Projects must work to drive and embed more attractive apprenticeship models that better meet the needs of a modern economy and today’s apprentices. Proposals that include a focus on industrial barriers and impediments to competency-based progression will be viewed favourably. Projects will be required to outline the target number of participants involved in competency-based progression and completion arrangements.
The Australian Government is committed to funding innovative models that further the reach of competency-based progression. Projects are required to develop workforce development strategies that embed competency-based progression in apprenticeships and address the workforce development needs of employers and apprentices in their sector. Lead Organisations would work in partnership with Partner Organisations to address key aspects of workforce development plans including how individual employees would be supported through their training from entry to completion and into the future under competency-based arrangements.
Suggested projects include:
- Provide more attractive, high status career pathways. For example, this could include incorporating higher qualifications (such as through a business studies extension) within an accelerated timeframe.
- Development and/or adoption of flexible learning arrangements and assessment tools, particularly e-learning environments.
- Would support the continued supply of skilled workers during periods of economic downturn. For example, this may involve pathways that incorporate intensive institutional learning, as well as on-the-job learning.
- Support the transferability of skills and enable career mobility. This would ensure that apprenticeships are not too narrowly focused, and would assist with the redeployment of workers affected by transitions in the economy in the future.
- Promote clearly defined and effective pre-apprenticeship pathways that are recognised by employers and support fast-tracked entry into and completion of an apprenticeship.
- The development and implementation of more attractive entry pathways for older workers, including recognition of prior learning and recognition of current competency to reduce the apprenticeship duration.
- The development and implementation of effective career pathways and succession plans, including competency-based wage progression arrangements and completion incentives.
- The development and implementation of strategies that address the development needs of supervisors/employers to ensure they are equipped with the right skills and understanding to support the training, assessment and progression of apprentices under a competency-based training model. Strategies would aim to promote changes in workplace culture and practices so that apprentices have the best opportunity to achieve competencies and complete their apprenticeship.
Some of the recipients include:
- Australian Industry Group – A national industry led partnership to develop, promote and implement competency-based progression and completion in the engineering trades, includes fitters, machinists, turners, boilermakers, sheet metal workers, foundry core makers & patternmakers, refrigeration mechanics, welders etc. by linking formal training with skill development in the workplace.
- ElectroComms and Energy Utilities Industry Skills Council – A national industry led partnership to develop, promote and implement an innovative model for a consistent national assessment standard to further competency-based progression in electrotechnology apprenticeships.
- Printing Industries Australia – The project aims to train and upskill new and existing employees to achieve portable nationally recognised qualifications. The project will be over 2 ½ years with around 240 apprentices nationally in four Certificate III printing qualifications.
- Restaurant & Catering Industry Association of Australia – The project training model will be implemented in five states over 30 months in Certificate III in Commercial Cookery and Front of House (Hospitality), Certificate III Hospitality and Chef pathway at the Certificate IV level involving around 500 apprentices.
- Woolworths Limited – The project aims to improve completion and retention rates in Woolworth’s trainee and apprenticeship programs by developing a national program that facilitates accelerated skill development. The Project will target a significant workforce of Australian Apprentices in retail, butchers and bakers over the project period.