Plans to reduce regulation of on job training
Among the many cuts proposed for the NSW education system is a 25 percent cut to field services in State Training Services. These are 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 (Independent Commission Against Corruption) inquiry, education management is planning to loosen controls over training and accreditation", said John Cahill, General Secretary of the Public Service Association. "State Training Services makes a very real contribution to keeping all players honest and to providing accountability for expenditure from the public purse. "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", he said 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. There are 126,000 apprentices and trainees in NSW. There are 60 field staff employed in 11 locations — 34 are in the Sydney metropolitan area and 26 are in rural and regional NSW. That is 2100 apprentices and trainees to each field officer. 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 and 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 and 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. There are abuses of the training systems and the field staff are the people who find them and deal with them. Some 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. * Information technology trainees working in sandwich bars and real estate agencies. Actual jobs were making sandwiches or selling houses). Some trainees were not even sure they were trainees. They were not aware that they had signed a training contract. * School kids being told they can only work in fast food outlets if they undertake a traineeship. They were paid trainee wages but no training takes place that matches the training plan. * 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 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", said Mr Cahill. "It is difficult to see how either can be maintained with the current proposals", he said.