Release type: Media Release


Expert panel to advise on apprenticeship reforms


The Hon Simon Crean MP
Minister for Education
Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations
Minister for Social Inclusion

Education Minister, Simon Crean, today announced an expert panel has been established to advise the Government on reform options for the Australian Apprenticeships system.

The seven member Apprenticeships for the 21st Century Panel will be chaired by Mr Jim McDowell and includes industry and union representatives and academics.

“Australia’s apprenticeship system was hit hard by the economic downturn,” Mr Crean said.

“To aid recovery, the Australian Government implemented the Apprentice Kickstart program which encouraged employers to take on more than 24,000 apprentices between December 2009 and February 2010. This saw a return to normal levels of commencements for apprentices over the summer months, instead of the decade it took the Opposition to restore numbers during the last recession.

“Yesterday I also announced 500 pre-apprenticeship places in South Australia, as part of a $20 million nationwide effort to help disadvantaged kids, Indigenous kids and those who have dropped out of school prepare for apprenticeships,” Mr Crean said.

“This Government has made a very strong commitment that unemployment should not be an option for our kids.

“Building on this, the expert panel will suggest reforms to strengthen the Australian Apprenticeships system to meet the skills needs of our growing economy,” Mr Crean said.

The panel will examine training arrangements to improve outcomes for apprentices and industry. It will report to Government by the end of 2010.

The work of the panel will be underpinned by a study on the related economic costs and benefits of the current Australian Apprenticeships system undertaken by the National Centre for Vocational Education Research.

The panel’s work will support the Government’s broader vocational education and training reforms to deliver greater efficiency, accessibility and transparency for the $6.4 billion sector. This includes establishing an independent National VET Regulator and Standards Council.

The Apprenticeships for the 21st Century Panel is part of the $661 million Skills for Sustainable Growth Package in the 2010-2011 Budget that will target skills shortages over the next four years.

This package includes almost $20 million to support a shift from a time-served apprenticeship model to a competency-based system.

Details of the panel members are attached, and for more information on the Skills for Sustainable Growth package, visit

The members of the Apprenticeships for the 21st Century Panel are:

Mr Jim McDowell (Chair)

Chief ExecutiveBAE Systems Australia

Dr John Buchanan

Director, Workplace Research CentreThe University of Sydney

Mr Royce Fairbrother

Chief Executive OfficerFairbrother Pty Ltd

Mr Dave Oliver

National SecretaryAustralian Manufacturing Workers Union

Ms Marie Persson

Skills Australia Board Member

Mr Tim Shipstone

Industrial OfficerAustralian Council of Trade Unions

Ms Simone Wetzlar

Executive General ManagerPeople, Safety and EnvironmentThiess Pty Ltd