Will new reforms improve apprenticeship outlook?

The National Electrical and Communications Association (NECA) remains hopeful of a brighter year for apprentices in 2017, following declines in the take-up and completion of apprenticeships in the June Quarter of 2016, said CEO Suresh Manickam.

“The release of the quarterly National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) statistics continues to highlight apprenticeship declines on a year-on-year basis for trades-related commencements, in particular for those aged 25 and over.

“For the June quarter, the number of apprentices and trainees in training as at 30 June 2016 was 282,900, a decrease of 7.8% from June 2015, and a decrease of 1.3% from the March 2016 quarter.

“However, we remain hopeful that reforms put in place to strengthen the performance and reputation of the VET sector will bring some cheer for apprentices in 2017,” Manickam said.

“The government’s new VET Loans program has recently passed the Senate and will commence on January 1. These reforms aim to better target the right students for courses that provide the greatest opportunity to realise employment outcomes by limiting eligibility to courses such as Electrotechnology, where there’s a greater likelihood of apprentices finding employment, deliver higher standards of compliance and enrolment access for training providers and the banning of brokers, cold calling and incentive-based sales tactics to attract students. Students will now have to regularly engage with the VET Student Loans portal to ensure their enrolment remains active and legitimate.

“NECA has been a strong advocate for the reform of the VET sector and the removal of platforms that enabled poorly performing providers to enter the system to deliver below quality education through the lure of free laptops funded by Australian taxpayers. We believe the new arrangements will deliver certainty for the sector and will ultimately deliver improved outcomes that will lead to an increase in the take-up and completion of apprenticeships across the nation,” said Manickam.

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