Apprentices left in the lurch by Careers Australia collapse

Dozens of electrical apprentices will have their final qualifications delayed while hundreds more are likely to need to complete additional training after registered training organisation Careers Australia was placed into voluntary administration late yesterday.

The collapse of Careers Australia, which has impacted 15,000 students and left 1,000 staff without jobs and owed unpaid entitlements, came just six weeks after the company was stripped of its accreditation to deliver training to students covered by VET student loans. The company had also previously been forced to refund $44 million enforceable in student loans to taxpayers.

The Electrical Trades Union slammed the decision to place the company into administration without warning, saying students and staff had been promised training would continue as usual for the remainder of 2017.

ETU Queensland and Northern Territory apprentices officer Scott Reichman said at least 15 electrical apprentices were scheduled to complete their four years of training today, while others were enrolled to sit their final exam in the coming weeks.

“Dozens of electrical apprentices are going to have the completion of their training delayed, preventing them from practicing their trade or earning a living wage,” Mr Reichman said.

“Not only do the 670 electrical apprentices impacted by the Careers Australia collapse need to find alternate training places, many are likely to need to resit training blocks or exams.

“The decision to leave thousands of apprentices and trainees high and dry, with incomplete qualifications and an uncertain future, is even more staggering when you consider Careers Australia received an extraordinary $440 million from the Federal Government just last year.

“Taxpayers will also face additional costs, with the Federal Government’s Fair Entitlement Guarantee required to pick up the tab for unpaid wages and entitlements owed to the company’s 1,000 teachers.”

ETU national apprentice officer Mark Burgess said that while the union was happy to see the end of Career Australia’s substandard apprentice program, which relied on unsupervised, self-directed online training, the collapse would have a huge impact on staff and apprentices.

“Australia already has a worryingly low completion rate for apprenticeships — with just one in two people completing their trade training — which makes the impact of unscrupulous companies like Careers Australia even more devastating,” Mr Burgess said.

“The union’s number one priority is to help these electrical apprentices find alternate training providers as soon as possible so that they can continue their trade training with as little disruption as possible.

“We will also be working with staff from Careers Australia to ensure they recover as much of the wages and entitlements they are owed as possible.”

Mr Burgess said this latest collapse of a private training provider highlighted the ongoing failure of the Federal Government to manage the sector.

“The push to have private, profit-driven operators take over skills training from government-run TAFEs is leaving a growing trail of destruction,” he said.

“Apprentices and trainees are being left stranded, taxpayers are left out of pocket, and the only winners are the operators of these companies.”

Electrical apprentices seeking support with alternate training placements following the Careers Australia collapse are asked to register their details at:

Media comment: Mark Burgess (0438 732 301) or Scott Reichman (0437 184 399)

Further information: Dan Nancarrow (0448 633 858) or Tim Vollmer (0404 273 313)