Subject: (Australian Apprenticeship Support Network)


BARRY MAC: Well it’s been a pretty big week as far as the federal government is concerned. Earlier this week it was announced by the local member for Gilmore, Ann Sudmalis, over $5 million in blackspot funding had been allocated.

ANN SUDMALIS: Yeah and that’s for the Shoalhaven alone, we actually got just over 6 for all of Gilmore but, the alone share went to Shoalhaven and I think that’s brilliant.

BARRY MAC: You must have been down there nagging them again!

ANN SUDMALIS: I have. I nag a lot but I’ve found that it’s working.

BARRY MAC: Alright, don’t forget about the petrol prices…

ANN SUDMALIS: …I’m still nagging…

BARRY MAC: You’re still nagging. Ok, in the region today, I’ve got the Assistant Minister for Education and Training, The Hon Simon Birmingham, thank you for coming in and joining the morning program this morning.

SIMON BIRMINGHAM: Good morning, great to be with you, great to be here with Ann.

BARRY MAC: You’ve just come to me from Bakehouse delights up in East Nowra where you made an announcement. Tell us about that announcement.

SIMON BIRMINGHAM: We’ve announced the new Australian Apprenticeship Support Network, which is a $200 million investment per anum by the federal government in really making apprenticeship work more effectively around Australia, making it easier for employers to get a good apprentice on board who’s a good fit for their business and then supporting them by taking a lot of the paperwork out of the apprenticeship system and giving them some mentoring support right through the apprenticeship process and for small businesses, like the butcher and the baker that we just visited at East Nowra, it’s really important to make it as easy as possible for them to take on young people to give them that first chance in life and employ an apprentice.

BARRY MAC: Reducing the red tape is so very, very important, businesses these days just don’t have the time. 

SIMON BIRMINGHAM: That’s right, and so we’re investing a lot in a new technology system to support the apprenticeships network. Historically, you can walk in to some of the managers of apprenticeship systems and they have rooms and rooms with boxes and boxes of files that have been used to tick off all of the different competencies and skills that need to be matched off to say that an apprentice has reached a qualification. We’ve invested in a new IT system to remove that, to free up the paperwork and providing these 11 different support organisations around Australia which includes an affiliate of the New South Wales Chamber of Commerce, who will be providing real hands on support to businesses to help them through that apprenticeship process.

BARRY MAC: Alright, just give me an example. Say I have a business and I need to employ some apprentices, how do I go about that? 

SIMON BIRMINGHAM: So go and have a chat to the New South Wales Chamber from 1st July, they’ll be funded to provide these services, they can help provide, essentially, a matching service, where they will help you find a good young person who is a good fit for your business, a good fit for the trade that you have to offer, they’ll help you through the sign up process, help you connect with the TAFE or the training provider associated with that apprenticeship and then they’ll help you through each of the other steps in terms of the different incentive payments that might be available to help with the apprenticeship and then all of the different paperwork stages around ticking off of those competencies and, if you get in trouble along the way, if it’s not working out with the apprentice, they’ll try to help fix that problem up so that we will be really trying to drive to improve completion rates above all else, which at present only sit around 50% for Australian apprenticeships and obviously that’s a real waste and we want to try and boost those completion rates to a higher level to get more young people actually finishing those apprenticeships and having the qualifications to see them through life. 

BARRY MAC: You’d be aware that in the seat of Gilmore, for example, we need this, we need this desperately, we need to get more apprentices out there, we need to keep our kids in our region rather than have them go elsewhere.

SIMON BIRMINGHAM: Look, Gilmore has a great champion in Ann Sudmalis and Ann makes it very clear to the likes of me at all stages that there are particular challenges in this part of the world, that we do need to make sure we’re providing the right policies that help schools open up opportunities, especially vocational education opportunities and she’s about to whisk me off to Vincentia High School later this morning. We brought together a great group of schools and training providers last night that Ann had at the local TAFE in their training restaurant for dinner and they all provided a lot very direct feedback about how we need to try and get the partnerships between businesses and schools and businesses and training providers working more effectively and this apprenticeship support network is in large, part about making that as seamless as possible for small businesses to partner up with those training providers.

BARRY MAC: Alright, we’ll let you get on your way to Vincentia. That’s the Assistant Minister for Education and Training, the Hon Simon Birmingham and of course, our federal member for Gilmore, Ann Sudmalis, thank you for your time.