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Longer stints in industry likely for ITE, poly students

They could spend up to a year as interns or apprentices to deepen work skills: Indranee

Published on Apr 13, 2014 8:48 AM
Apprentice chefs Kenneth Yap and Emily Burnell (in front) with their workplace supervisors Richard Learmonth and Mark Haines (at back, from left). Emily works four days a week at The Restaurant Pendolino in Sydney and attends lessons at a Tafe College once a week. -- ST PHOTO: AMELIA TENG

Industry attachments for students in polytechnics and the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) may soon be extended to give young people more time to deepen their work skills.

This means having students spend up to a year, instead of just months, as an intern or apprentice in a company for training, and pick up tricks of the trade that cannot be taught in school, according to Ms Indranee Rajah.

"When you're with a company for a month... there's not much an employer can do with you, except to give you just a more cursory sense of the work," said the Senior Minister of State for Law and Education.

"But if you are with them for a longer period... when you have a real responsibility, then the experience is quite different because you actually have to produce and deliver."

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Background story


Last year, Emily Burnell was learning how to be a chef at The Morrison, a restaurant in Sydney that is well known for its fresh oysters.

This year, the 19-year-old is working in The Restaurant Pendolino, learning how to serve up Italian cuisine.

"I want to learn as much as I can now, so that I can be the best chef possible," said the second-year apprentice chef.

Emily works four days a week for A$12 (S$14) an hour, and attends lessons at a Technical and Further Education (Tafe) College once a week.

These arrangements were made by HTN Hospitality Employment Solutions, a group training organisation (GTO) that farms out its 450 apprentice chefs and hospitality trainees to local businesses.

This model is Australia's way to help small and medium enterprises (SME) be more willing to train youth, said Mr Jeff Priday, a national projects manager at Group Training Australia, which represents about 120 GTOs across the country.

At least half of the GTO host employers are local enterprises. Many do not have the resources or time to arrange for apprenticeships or training programmes, he said. They are also not keen to commit to a contract because they cannot guarantee work.

Similar challenges are faced by SMEs in Singapore, which grapple with the perennial manpower constraints and rising costs.

So the idea is to create a separate organisation which will be the employer and bear these risks of taking on young trainees, Mr Priday explained.

The work of GTOs - which charge the host businesses A$1,500 to A$3,000 a year - includes recruitment, paying wages, matching apprentices to workplaces and monitoring their progress.

The usual training period with a firm is a year, but in more project-based sectors like construction, apprentices could be rotated to up to six companies over three years.

There are currently about 35,000 apprentices and trainees employed under this arrangement, and to date more than 100,000 businesses in Australia have used a GTO.

Amelia Teng