Group Training was formally established in Australia during the early 1980s by industry leaders in the Automotive and Building sectors and with support from government agencies. The concept was a response to the needs of many small businesses in an unpredicatable market who found it challenging to commit to employ apprentices for the full duration of their apprenticeship. This lead to concerns about skill shortages for the industry as well as missed opportunities youth employment.
Group Training had originated from an English model where a “group of employers” trained one apprentice. The original model failed as one of the employers had to sign the indenture (now known as contract of training) which left the employer exposed when the others in the group failed to participate.
The Current Model
The Australian Government established the current model where a separate legal entity (The Group Training Organisation (GTO)) was set up as the employer and arranged for the other “group of employers” to participate.
Group training grew slowly at first. However, in 1981 the Group Apprenticeship Scheme was established, and the Commonwealth and State/Territory governments agreed jointly to fund the administrative costs of not-for-profit GTOs and to provide support and encouragement for their establishment. The availability of funding encouraged growth.
Group Training eases the burden for Businesses and Apprentices and Trainees
GTOs provided an industry-wide response to uncertain economic and employment conditions. GTOs could now recruit and employ apprentices and place them with one or more host employers for the duration of their training, often over a four year period. By taking on the employment burden, several objectives were met:
- Stable employment opportunities for young people
- A hassle free supply of apprentices for small businesses
- Rotation of apprentices to ensure continuing employment and a breadth of experience
- A method of meeting skill needs in areas where employment cycles or the size of employers made long term employment difficult
- A mechanism for placing out-of-trade apprentices
- A mechanism for ensuring future skills could be addressed.
Group Training benefits Government
In addition to helping businesses, apprentices and trainees, Group Training provides further benefits to Government:
- A national network and associated infrastructure
- Encourages business investment in employment and training, especially of young people
- Greater certainty and efficiency in both the labour and training markets
- Creates opportunities for placement of people from disadvantaged groups
The changing face of Group Training
As the years have progressed, there has been a change in demographics in Group Training apprentices and trainees and government programs with incentives:
- Increase of females (predominantly in Traineeships)
- Increase in mature age
- Increase in Indigenous (attributed to government initiatives)
- Increase of those with a disability
- Increase in non-English speaking background
- More support provided to those with learning difficulties.
Organisations operating solely as GTOs are in the minority. The group training activity of employing apprentices and trainees and managing them through the use of host employers is usually accompanied by other government funded and/fee for-service activities.
Group Training Key Milestones
Group Training Association of South Australia was established.
Approximately 90 GTOs offered employment and training to around 10,000 apprentices and 1,000 trainees throughout Australia.
Apprentice Employment Network was established as a national association for not-for-profit GTOs.
Group Training Australia (now known as Apprentice Employment Network) was established.
Group Training Australia (SA) (now known as Apprentice Employment Network SA) was established to align with the National Network.
Apprenticeship & traineeship numbers flourish, from approximately 17,000 in 1995 to over 38,000 in June 2000.
The National Standards for Group Training Organisations were developed by the Ministerial Council for Vocational and Technical Education (MCVTE) to provide a formal framework that promotes national consistency and quality for group training.
Group Training Australia transitioned to the new name of Apprentice Employment Network (AEN)
Group Training Australia (SA) transitioned to the new name of Apprentice Employment Network – South Australia (AEN SA)
The Revised National Standards for Group Training Organisations were endorsed by all States and Territories and ratified by the COAG Industry & Skills Council for implementation.
There are 181 GTOs throughout Australia, employing approximately 48,000 apprentices & trainees who are placed with more than 35,000 host employers.