- 3 July 2009
At @TimeISmoney is spot on, competency standards were a U.S based system of training, they broke down the work requirement for each function and then where there was an overlap of skills and knowledge required, the functions were grouped together.Do you know why the government went to the RTO system? I'll tell you why because it's cheaper for everyone involved and they pump out useless tradies in no time. I worked as a trade teacher in one of these establishments and quit within 3 months. I was working 14hr + days on a paid salary for a 38hr week. The govt pays for the first two lessons 1hr each per individual module, if the kid doesn't get it within the first 2x 1hr lessons, it then comes out of the RTO expenses to get them through or you fail the student. These are modules that normally take a week and sometimes a week and a half of full time days to teach in Tafes. You usually end up with less than half an hour with each student. You have to see management to get on site, and then you have to find the student which could be anywhere, sometimes it takes you 20 minutes just to park the car because there's a small number of parks in city CBDs. The employer doesn't want to pull the student away from work, sometimes you have to wait for them to finish a job.
I had students who were illiterate and others with psychological disabilities and then had workplaces that signed kids up just to get govt grants. Most workplaces treated the training as secondary to work, not many in the workplace wanted to teach them anything because in many cases of car dealerships they're used as cheap labour, once they finish their trade they're shown the door, and they only retain something like 5% of the apprentices. These kids are virtually no good to anyone because all they've done is pump up tyres and change oil for 4 years of their apprenticeship, the lucky ones may get to do a gearbox replacement or two. The sad thing is apart from the few ratbags, most of these kids are really keen to learn something.
Even when I went to TAFE in Qld for fulltime 4-week release blocks, everything they taught bar basic engineering principles was outdated junk, I was working on electronic fuel injected cars in the workplace and TAFE was teaching carburetors. The students were literally teaching the teachers because they had been out of workshops for so long and barely knew anything about new tech in cars.
That's my rant over for today.
Then the companies could chose which skill sets they required their apprentices to have and tailor the course to suit.
Prior to this apprentices were tought the whole gambit of their trade and they were tested on the complete trade, so there was a minimum standard that all apprentices had to pass.
With competencies, the lines became blurred and the minimum standard became variable, the companies were happy because they didn't have to teach the apprentice skills and knowledges that they didn't require in their particular workplace.
The big flaw in the system is you need a huge amount of workers to fill all the holes that the lack of broadly skilled tradesmen left and Australia doesn't have a huge workforce, so you end up with a pool of tradespeople with limited skills.
The unions were very much for it, especially the electrical trade, because as they absorbed the instrument trade they received pay increases as they picked up more competencies.
But as with our education system it has become a race to the bottom, as people with a very limited scope of knowledge are being given certificates, which are now becoming treated with a lot of suspicion.
So the companies are taking on people as casuals or through labour hire companies and if they are any good they keep them, if they are useless they move them on, so the Govt is trying to plug that hole with the new laws.
As usual what started as a great idea has now turned into another brain fart.
In the early 1990's I was employed for a couple of years to help identify and construct the modules, at the time I said all we are doing is dumbing down and de skilling our trades, no one gave a hoot.
The companies were happy and the unions were happy, now we wear it.
The Govt is going to recognise overseas qualifications and because the companies only want the best tradesmen they currently pay them top money, but that leaves a lot of low paid tradies with limited skills difficult to find employment.
So to stop that they are bringing in laws where they will have to keep the worker and the Govt wants to bring back enterprise bargaining so that all tradies get the same money.
Which in theory is good, but in reality it just makes the top tradies less motivated and productivity drops down to the lowest common denominator.
As usual it is the result of unintended consequencies and fixing a wheel that wasn't broke in the first place.
This is the problem with dumb politicians and vested interests trying to come up with new wheels they always end up stuffed.