Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union




DECEMBER 9, 2020 – Apprentices working across Australia are in Canberra to urge Employment and Skills Minister Michaelia Cash to drop a plan to remove the mandatory workplace practice component from engineering trade qualifications.

The Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union (AMWU) and apprentices have warned that apprenticeships as we know them are under attack.

Minister Cash wrote to relevant state and territory ministers calling on them to vote by circular on a plan to strip out the mandatory workplace practice part of the qualifications that underpin apprenticeships. The proposal is being pushed by the organisation that gives advice to the Government on skills for apprenticeships – the Australian Industry & Skills Committee (AISC).

Workplace training is crucial to ensure apprentices feel competent and safe on the job. Over 80 percent of apprentices and 90 percent of employers that were surveyed at the request of the AISC supported mandatory workplace practice for trade qualifications and wanted training to be done only through apprenticeships. 

The AMWU and apprentices requested a meeting with Minister Cash in Canberra to urge her to drop the proposal but were instead offered a meeting with one of her staff.

Quotes attributable to AMWU National Secretary Steve Murphy:

“Instead of taking action to address the looming skills shortage, this government is spending their time trying to undermine the foundations of our trades.

“Stripping away the on-the-job learning component from the qualifications that underpin apprenticeships would be disastrous for apprentices and employers.

“Minister Cash has been trying to push this through without a proper process by asking relevant state and territory ministers to vote by circular behind closed doors and without proper scrutiny.

“The Government and AISC are pushing for something that neither apprentices nor employers want.”

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