Alliance formed to assist apprentices

AN alliance between two key Gippsland groups is hoped to address the problem of unplaced apprentices.

Gippsland Trades and Labour Council and Apprenticeship Group Australia held a public meeting last week aimed at forming immediate and long term solutions to secure the future of Gippsland apprentices.

In May AGA suspended 35 Latrobe Valley apprentices but has since reengaged 14 apprentices.

“We’re determined to address the situation, that’s why we’re not just looking at short term but long terms strategies as well,” GTLC secretary John Parker said.

“The sad part is in the future there is going to be a skill shortage in the construction and manufacturing industry, because of the dynamics of an ageing population of people with those skills.

“If these young people get through their apprenticeship, they will be highly sought after and will be able to maintain good wages and conditions.”

GTLC and AGA have also identified four projects in the region, with the possibility of getting apprentices on board these projects.

Some of the identified projects include the Wonthaggi theatre, Walhalla Railway and the establishment of low cost housing on a block of land in Moe.

Mr Parker said they would also be calling on the state and federal governments to ensure “all government projects now have a ratio of trades people to apprentices”.

This initiative, along with a commitment by AGA to provide “special business training” to its apprentices, is expected to ensure the viability of apprenticeships in Gippsland.

AGA employment and training manager Phil Backman said the training organisation was “committed” to reengage the currently unplaced apprentices.

He also said the organisation would not take on its July intake of about 90 apprentices today, until “all current apprentices have been placed”.

“The picture is not great, but we want to help where we can,” Mr Backman said.

“It is a disappointment for the community that the 90 apprentices won’t get jobs come (today).

“But it’s not all doom and gloom… we haven’t forgotten the (unplaced) apprentices, we are on their side and we are trying everything to get them a job.”