$4m for adult apprenticeships

IF Emerald adult apprentices are to benefit from the Federal Government's $4 million National Apprenticeship Program, they must travel as far as Gladstone, Mackay or Cairns.

Under the NAP, 400 adult apprentices will be given an opportunity to gain formal qualifications through a new partnership between the government and global giant Bechtel.

Federal Minister for Skills and Jobs Senator Chris Evans hailed the NAP as an innovative program that "will transform the lives of 400 semi-skilled workers".

"They will build on the skills they already have, achieve a formal qualification in just 18 months and graduate with strong job prospects," Senator Evans said.

"This is the single biggest uptake of the $4 million National Apprenticeship Program which is designed to meet skills shortages in critical industries such as resources and construction.

"This is about recognising and utilising the untapped skills potential in Australia, and is one of a broad range of Australian Government responses to meet skill shortages in our patchwork economy.

"It will assist Australians from all walks of life to get the training they need to secure the skilled jobs on offer in the economy."

Positions are available in Gladstone, Mackay and Cairns for work on the construction of three Queensland LNG plants.

The six trades to benefit include electrical fitter mechanic, dual trade electrical/instrumentation, metal fabrication boilermaker welders, engineering diesel fitters, metal fabrication pipe fitters and carpentry formworkers.

The NAP operates in two stages, the first of which involves an assessment process to identify individuals who can demonstrate the aptitude and trade skills required to satisfy at least 40% of the trade qualification requirements.

According to the government, stage two provides tailored gap training to applicants to bring them up to the appropriate trade qualification level and ensure they meet industry requirements.

To be accepted under the NAP, applicants must have four years minimum experience in the trade they are interested in.

The Australian Manufacturing Workers Union yesterday slammed the announcement, calling it a "sugar hit" to satisfy short-term labour demands which fell short of long-term training and industry growth needs in regional Queensland.

AMWU assistant state secretary Rohan Webb said major companies must invest in skills training for all age levels, particularly school leavers.

"There are not enough new apprenticeships being created for young people," Mr Webb said.

"Large companies like Bechtel must invest in new and proper apprenticeships."

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