Higher apprenticeships in digital technologies taking off in South Australia

The Industry 4.0 higher apprenticeship program enjoyed successful pilots in most states in the past year. Victoria launched the first pilot back in 2017, but in 2020 new higher apprenticeship programs commenced in South Australia, Queensland and New South Wales, highlighting a demand for technicians and trades workers to develop skills to work with digitalised equipment.

During these pilots, the emphasis has been on upskilling those already in the workforce, but now employers in South Australia are looking to develop the next generation of workers. The next intake will include 15 school leavers from the total of 24 higher apprentices commencing training in February. SA Power Networks has led the charge, identifying that the program would suit some of their annual intake of school leavers.

Some of the higher apprentices signing on at Ai Group’s Adelaide office

With support from Ai Group Apprentice and Trainee Centre and Skills Lab, the specialist training provider that will lead the apprentices’ training, SA Power Networks organised an event at the National Wine Centre in Adelaide where David Pisoni, Minister for Innovation and Skills, launched the new initiative. Many of the companies that attended were convinced about the value of the program and signed up for a 2021 commencement.

The 15 school leavers are all employed by Ai Group Apprentice and Trainee Centre and hosted by individual companies. This provides the flexibility to move apprentices around over the three-year program so they can gain hands on experience working with a wide range of digital technologies.

Ai Group has been promoting the Industry 4.0 Higher Apprenticeship for some years because our members have expressed a demand for high-level digital skills for their trades and technician workers. Our hope is to see programs like this one being piloted in SA, with its focus on digital technologies for school leavers, being augmented by other programs that are designed to upskill those already in the workforce, or that combine traditional apprenticeship training with Industry 4.0 skills.

For more information about what is available in your state, contact Peter Canavan at Ai Group.

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Peter Canavan is a senior policy officer at Ai Group, contributing to education and training policy and managing projects including the Industry 4.0 Higher Apprenticeship project. He has previously managed national projects relating to apprenticeships. Peter has over 25 years experience in the vocational training sector, and has also managed projects for the Victorian Government, including apprenticeship projects and projects supporting workers retrenched from the automotive manufacturing sector.

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