Five print related apprenticeships have been deleted from the new Australian Apprenticeship Priority List (AAPL) which means print machinests, finishers and pre-press operators won’t be able to access the $2.4 billion in support to incentivise employers and apprentices in this year’s federal Budget.
Sign writing apprentices were the only print industry-related field to stay on the AAPL.
In response to the move by the National Skills Commission, the Print & Visual Communication Association (PVCA) and The Real Media Collective (TRMC) have formed a coalition with unions, industry bodies and stakeholders to reverse the decision.
“The removal of the industry’s apprenticeships from the federal Australian Apprenticeships Priority List, along with the defunding of the comprehensive tranche of industry training certification courses from state TAFE’s and training providers is alarming and one our industry strongly rejects,” Kellie Northwood, CEO TRMC and incoming CEO, PVCA said.
“It is difficult to overstate the importance of our industry. Our industry encompasses the making and manufacturing of printing, packaging and labelling, health and medical forms, media and information services, Government notices and communications, 3-D manufacturing, animation, newspaper and magazine publications providing in-home media and community notices, signage and other notices to the public, toiletries, transactional mail and postal services, finance and insurance notices, paper and pulp manufacturing, and much more, for government to simply remove our Awards, without consultation, is of great concern.”
The Australian Apprenticeships Incentive System (AAIS) was announced in this year’s federal Budget. The scheme is set to begin from July 1, 2022 and provides wage subsidies for employers in priority occupations and hiring incentives for employers in non-priority occupations.
Apprentices and trainees in priority occupations will also receive a payment of up to $5,000 over two years to assist with the cost of undertaking an apprenticeship.
“Federal and state governments have for some time communicated their understanding and support for the apprenticeship system and the importance of apprenticeships for the benefits they bring the country. However, those statements sound hollow when governments start to show preferential treatment and prioritising training and support for a very limited number of trades, and remove funding for the apprenticeship training programs across other industries like ours. We will be calling this out across federal and state governments to bring a higher priority to our industry,” Northwood said.
Northwood added the decision to delete the print manufacturing related apprenticeships from the priority list, with the exception of sign writing, was taken without notice being provided to the print industry and without consultation or an opportunity to respond.
This is despite the sector being one of the largest manufacturing employers in the country, employing 258,000 Australians directly and 342,000 indirectly across regional and metropolitan locations. The government requirement across the Department is to consult and it is on this failure that PVCA/TRMC will be arguing more vehemently,” Northwood said.
Northwood also said the the diminishing VET (vocational education and training) system is also of great concern, adding certain courses including the Certificate III in Print Finishing Binding & Packaging is no longer offered in NSW, Queensland, SA and is unavailable in other states.
“When our industry has a new employee who wants to start their apprenticeship in our industry we want the best pathway for them, however, when the state TAFE system no longer offers the particular training and certification, or only offer an online classroom for a practical apprenticeship, it is crushing. The demand and the need for our industry is real and justifies that government correct the funding inputs, we must do better than having our apprentices trained on laptops in empty office buildings,” said Northwood.
“Over the last years, various state TAFE systems have outsourced responsibility for the provision of formal training arrangements for apprentices in our industry. We do not object to this approach necessarily, however, those institutions are reliant upon ongoing government funding to provide the training. What we are finding is that funding is not being continued, leaving our members with limited or no training options for their apprentices in their states and we will be working with all members, industry associations and trade unions to seek government correction across this important matter.”
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