Queensland’s apprentices and trainees are set to receive a boost, as the state government introduces a new bill that is designed to strengthen the vocational education and training (VET) sector.
Training and Skills Minister Yvette D’Ath aims to restore an independent Training Ombudsman, which will oversee VET activities and protect the interests of apprentices and trainees.
The Further Education and Training (Training Ombudsman) and Another Act Amendment Bill 2015 is part of the government’s drive to create jobs in Queensland and reduce unemployment levels.
One of the key responsibilities of the ombudsman will be helping individuals find the right training solutions that will enable them to secure skilled jobs. Ms D’Ath said the legislation will also provide important dispute resolution services.
“Establishing the Training Ombudsman will ensure Queensland’s VET students, employers and other significant stakeholders have a clear pathway for complaints and that systemic problems can be readily identified,” she explained.
The body will assure compliance with the Training Ombudsman Act, and covers apprentices, trainees, supervising RTOs and employers. According to Ms D’Ath, the kinds of issues expected to arise include problems with work, training, facilities and supervision.
Mediation for apprentices and trainees
Another of the ombudsman’s key responsibilities is mediation, with any unresolvable issues referred to relevant agencies for further assistance. It will also be tasked with monitoring the status of complaints to see whether or not a satisfactory outcome was achieved.
“This will provide a complete end-to-end service for complaints and assist the Training Ombudsman to identify issues to report to me as minister,” Ms D’Ath said. “The role will undertake relevant research, identify systemic issues and develop strategies to help improve VET policies and processes in Queensland.”
An interim Training Ombudsman is already in place and has received 25 complaints. The body, which was established in December, is available online and over the phone.
The Queensland government website states the service is free, and individuals can make a complaint by filling in and submitting a form. The ombudsman also accepts anonymous complaints.
Ms D’Ath confirmed the permanent ombudsman will come into effect once the amendment bill passes through parliament, which is likely to occur next year.
The announcement comes not long after the state government introduced the Jobs Queensland bill, another piece of legislation aimed at boosting the VET sector’s performance.
Under the law, the government would establish a panel of independent specialists whose role will be to guide strategy, support apprentices and trainees, and make the state’s VET industry the strongest in the country.
By Leanne Macnamara, Public Relations Coordinator