Apprenticeships – Time for a Change

This has been something which has been on my mind for a few months now and I have had a number of conversations with people inside and outside the Apprenticeship system or more precisely the apprenticeship management system.  The main arm of the management of apprenticeships and traineeships at the moment is the Australian Apprenticeship Support network or the ASSNs which is an evolution of the previous systems that were in place to help everyone involved, employer, student, provider and the government to get the best outcomes out of the system.  Before I go on, it is important to note that I am not talking about apprenticeships and traineeships themselves or how they are structured, delivered or anything like that. What I want to talk about today is the future of the ASSN and whether or not it is a model which is viable to take us forward into the 2020’s or if it really is something which has had its day. This should also not be taken as an attack on the organisations which form the ASSN or the work that they do.  It is certain that they, for the most part do a fantastic job.  The issue is whether or not the approximately $190 million which the government providers these organisations to provide this service is the simplest, most effective and most efficient method and whether not there may be better ways of delivering this service.

Why I say this is because in this digital world, it seems a little difficult for me to understand the need to have people driving around, talking to employers and providers, recruiting, mentoring and all of the other things they seem to do, when the underlying process should be very simple.  Now there has been a move to streamline the system with the AASN now utilising a lot of electronic forms and data, rather than the clearly time consuming and costly paper system which used to exist and this in itself points to the crux of the idea and the problem.

It seems to me that we may have an over complicated system providing a solution to a problem which is quite straightforward.  There are in essence only three parties which are involved in the apprentice or traineeship, that is the student, the employer and the provider (RTO).  Surely in this age of digital disruption some sort of self service model for employers, where they simply registered to become a employer for an apprentice or trainee and picked the RTO they wanted to use from a drop down box of government contracted providers, with a portal for students to then apply for the available roles is something which is not beyond the realm of imagining let alone creating.  There seems to be little or no reason why contracts and agreements, payments etc could not be handled through the same system.  All that would then be required would be a group of people to ensure, that the various requirements of the whole process were being met and that it was producing the outcomes which were required.

Now I understand that I may have grossly oversimplified the entire apprenticeship process, however that was to some extent my purpose here.  Why would I do that?  To point out that I think the days of the AASN are numbered.  I think that within the next 2-5 years we will see a significant shift in the way in which these services are delivered to stakeholders on behalf of the government. We will see more self service style options and more centralised management of the the system, why?  Because it is cheaper and has the potential to be more efficient.

If I was an AASN organisation I would be thinking about where my next income stream was coming from.

Anyway that’s just my opinion.

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About pauldrasmussen
Paul Rasmussen is one of Australia’s most widely read Vocational Education and Training Commentators. He provides deep, unbiased analysis and insights not only on topical issues, but also on the underlying structure and policy which supports the industry. His writing and analysis has been praised for its uncompromising and thought provoking style and its ability to focus on the issues of real importance to the sector. He has advised various government departments and ministers, training providers, public and private organisations, not for profits and small to medium enterprises on the VET sector and the issues and opportunities facing it. He is one of Australia’s most awarded learning professionals and a regular speaker at a range of conventions and forums. His extensive experience in vocational education, and learning and development coupled with formal qualifications in philosophy, ethics, business and education management allow Paul to provide a unique view of the road ahead and how to navigate it.

3 Responses to Apprenticeships – Time for a Change

  1. basdenleco says:

    Your views certainly resonate for me. Possibly the USI system may be able to be used to collate the information?

  2. Chris Amos says:

    Paul, I believe that you are correct as far as being time for a change, my biggest concern is that every time we have a change in anything related to the VET sector it becomes more complicated rather than simplified and we seem to have a need for more people to monitor the changes.

    Apprenticeships are not complicated, we have just made the this way and lost many employers along the way.

  3. Mark Jones says:

    Hi paul,

    You have hit the nail on the head. I am currenly in dialogue with a number of AASN’s, ACC’s ANP’s…whatever they want to call them at the moment.

    My frsutration is that their role has shifted to merely being sign-up officers. Yes, they have other contractual obligations, BUT at the end of the day it’s a numbers game, they get paid to DO SIGN-ups… The model needs to change, how about they too, like RTO’s get paid on student progression and apprenticeship completions…then you would see a huge shift in ASSN behaviours, such as actually doing their field visits providing pastoral care, mentoring and employer / apprenticrealtionship counselling. NOW…I know that some do it as and when required, BUT and a big BUT, a lot don’t do it! I can talk to this point from first hand experience..we currently have 500 plus apprentices and my industry enaggement (feedback) suggests that after the sign-up many of our apprentices / employers never see the AASN again.

    Give me a call if you would like to discuss this further!

    Mark Jones
    0499 143 403

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