The Guardian 17 August, 2005

Bosses seek "train and turf" deal

Employers want the power to sack apprentices as soon as they finish taxpayer-subsidised training.

The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) is demanding there be no right for apprentices to claim unfair dismissal.

The Australian Manufactur­ing Workers Union (AMWU) has slammed the proposal as "ludicrous".

The call is part of a "barriers to training" report written for the Department of Education, Science and Training and follows a number of successful unfair dismissal claims by sacked apprentices.

The report says the right to fire an apprentice at the end of their training would be an incentive for employers to take on younger workers.

But AMWU National President Julius Roe says the proposal would drive people away from apprenticeships.

"The proposal that ACCI has been pursuing vigorously will undermine the quality of apprenticeships and their attractiveness to young people", Roe said.

"It would make the skill shortage worse. Why would someone sign up to something for a long period on low pay with no reasonable prospects for long term employment?"

Roe says the proposal would advantage unscrupulous bosses who use apprentices for cheap labour and to benefit from government incentives.

"Unfortunately there are some employers abusing subsidies for training apprentices without making any commitments to further employment", Roe said.

The federal government will spend more than $500 million this year on "incentives", including cash-handouts to employers, under its New Apprentice scheme.

Roe says the government should be considering more certainty for apprentices if they want to attract people to trades.

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