Ai Group recently completed a major national project addressing competency based progression and completion in the engineering trades. The Engineering Excellence project set out to build a system where employers play a key role in confirming when apprentices are competent.
This change reflects the centrality of the workplace in demonstrating competency, and the fundamental nature of the contract between an employer and apprentice.
The project was established under the Accelerated Australian Apprenticeship Program for trades within the Manufacturing and Associated Industries and Occupations Award 2010. Interestingly, few Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) had strategies to involve employers in the process, even though the industrial award required employers to agree with the RTO’s assessment before an apprentice can progress. Our project was designed to fix this.
Ten RTOs across the nation participated in this comprehensive project for over two and a half years and a great deal of useful resources have been developed as a result.
One of the key participants in this project, The Gordon Institute of TAFE in Geelong, Victoria, has a very good story to tell about its involvement. While engineering apprentice commencements fell across the country in 2015 there was an increase at The Gordon. This is significant given that the area has lost its largest contributors to engineering apprentices such as Ford, Alcoa and Shell. This increase has occurred as a result of the direct communications and reporting to local employers that occurred due to their involvement in this project.
There was also success of a different kind in Tasmania. As a result of their participation in the project, TasTAFE has developed an electronic profiling tool for employers to monitor progress and confirm the competency of apprentices. This has been very well received by employers and the tool has been made available to other trade areas as well. In addition, Hunter TAFE in NSW has adopted this approach and other participating RTOs are also considering its use.
As Ai Group Chief Executive, Innes Willox, said in launching the Engineering Excellence Report this week: “The implementation of competency based progression and completion is one of the biggest changes to the apprenticeship system for many years. This new report reinforces the shift from time-based assessment and the positive impact it is having on engineering trade apprentices and their employers.”
The results of this project are expected to have a positive impact on the completion of engineering apprenticeships. The latest individual completion rates are 56% for trades occupations and this could improve if apprentices are able to progress more quickly through their training under these competency based arrangements.
Is your business implementing competency based progression and completion for your apprentices? Contact Michael Taylor to find out more, or leave a comment below to share your comments and experiences.