Subject: (Australian Apprenticeship Support Network)


LAUREN MCWHIRTER: Loz and Jack with you this morning joined in the studio by federal member for Gilmore, Ann Sudmalis, who we love to have in, but she’s brought along a special friend this morning, it is Senator Simon Birmingham. He is the Assistant Minister for Education and Training, welcome to the studio.

Now, what can you tell us about the Australian Apprenticeship Support Network that has been announced on Monday?

SIMON BIRMINGHAM: Well the Apprenticeship Support Network is a really important $200 million per anum investment by the federal government in trying to make apprenticeship systems work better for apprentices and employers. Really creating a situation where we make it as easy as possible for small businesses and employers to get a good young person, make sure they’re a good fit for their business and their apprenticeship and then help mentor them right through the stages of the apprenticeship to try to ensure that things don’t go wrong because at present, completion rates for apprenticeships in Australia are only about 50% and we really want to drive up that completion rate by making sure we’ve got a better fit of people and better support through the life of the apprenticeship.

LAUREN MCWHIRTER: So what you’re saying is that people who start their apprenticeships, only 50% of the apprenticeships end up finishing the complete training…and for an apprenticeship it goes for a long time doesn’t it? I know my mum did a hairdressing apprenticeship and it was three years or so and you want to make sure if you’re investing in that and if you as a business are investing in that person, that they are going to complete that and probably, you want them to then work for you at the end of the apprenticeship.

SIMON BIRMINGHAM: Well exactly, for the small business, we want them to of course have a qualified person at the end, for taxpayers we want to make sure that the support that’s provided to subsidise the training and provide incentives to get in to apprenticeships isn’t wasted by having somebody non complete and of course ultimately for the young person or older person, if they’re the one doing an apprenticeship, we want to ensure that they have a recognised qualification, a trade that they are able to use throughout their life to develop their career, to start their own business and to create jobs for other people in the future.

LAUREN MCWHIRTER: For sure…and so what does this mean for the people under the Gilmore electorate area, Ann? How can they get involved?

ANN SUDMALIS: Well luckily this morning, well not luckily, it was great, we’ve actually been to a butchers and a bakers to meet the apprentices there and they’re just great. A couple of them are about to sign on, some of them…one of them at the bakers, John, is about to head off for an international event because he is such an outstanding apprentice. So, it was a great start to the day and it shows that our young people are out there. They’ve been speaking to the minister saying, you know, sometimes trying to get the match is difficult, so the new initiative that the government is taking is going to help us to get more young people in to the right apprenticeship. To make sure they can work with their new boss and ease out any of the difficulties and get them through, so I’m very excited about this initiative.

SIMON BIRMINGHAM: and I’ve got to do two plugs there, a big thumbs up to the custard tarts at the East Nowra Bakery, the breakfast of champions!

LAUREN MCWHIRTER: Yeah! The East Nowra Bakery is amazing, they actually support a lot of the stuff that we do, I know they always donate when we have drives going on as well; so, John and the team down there, well done. Talking about becoming an apprentice, when I finished school I thought I was going to join the Navy, and that didn’t happen, but if you’re thinking about becoming an apprentice, what happens after you finish year 12? How do you go about becoming an apprentice and finding out what exactly it is that you want to do? 

SIMON BIRMINGHAM: So there are a couple of different pathways people can take. Of course they can, if they have a good connection with a local small business, there’s a chance to talk to those small businesses and that’s certainly what we’ve found at the East Nowra Bakery and the butcher, that they really were connections that people had with those businesses they were able to establish. The new apprenticeship support network arrangements we’ve announced, people will be able to approach those contractors and providers we’ll be announcing very soon, we’re just finalising the exact locations of where their sites will be based, but there’ll be about 450 of them right around Australia and so people can have a look, they can monitor the website and that will provide details pretty soon of where those sites will be from the first of July this year and they can go and have a chat about what they think they might like to do but really of course, first and foremost, especially if we are talking about school leavers, talk to your careers advisor and you careers councillor at school about the different pathways that are available, either in to some form of vocational education, straight in to an apprenticeship, or of course off to uni or something else.

ANN SUDMALIS: I just wanted to add something, there’s a lot of young people in our area who don’t fit 11 and 12 and so our schools have been making an amazing difference by getting them in to VET courses and a lot of them have then jumped in to an apprenticeship and it’s been a really good linking pathway.


ANN SUDMALIS: Well actually, that’s a really good question and it was one of the things, and I’ll let Simon talk about that a little bit more, is we want the whole community to understand that being an apprentice is just as good, if not better than, going to university and a lot of young people, if that’s the avenue they’d like to go down, they should really follow it up but, Simon mentioned that last night, we had a meeting with a lot of teachers and RTOs and it was very productive so I’ll leave that little question to Simon.

SIMON BIRMINGHAM: Look Ann’s pretty much touched on it there, and last night, as a former teacher herself, Ann brought together a bunch of school principals, training providers at the TAFE institute here at their wonderful training restaurant for a good meal, but a wonderful chat about how the system works and one of the things I was chatting to them about is the importance of the status of vocational education and recognising that we want to inspire people to see that there are alternative careers and pathways to a university education and they’re really valued and, in fact, get people to understand that of small and medium sized business owners out there, more of them have a vocational education qualification than have a university qualification. So, it can be a great pathway to start your own business, to be an entrepreneur, to actually contribute to society in a whole range of different ways so, it’s not just a single stream pathway that you must finish school and you must go off to university, there’s a whole world of opportunities that we encourage children to explore and schools to help them step through that and certainly a lot of the local schools are doing some great things in terms of the vocational experiences that they’re providing and Ann’s whisking me off to Vincentia High School which will be great to see.

LAUREN MCWHIRTER: Well thanks so much for coming today, that’s the Assistant Minister for Education and Training, Senator Simon Birmingham.