Federal Govt throws funds spanner in the works

COFFS HARBOUR apprentices, trainees and employers are about to have their service provider changed on them, following the decision by the Federal Government to cancel the Department of Education and Training's New Apprenticeships Centre (DETNAC) contract.

It is a decision that has angered the NSW Minister for Education and Training, Ms Carmel Tebbutt, as well as the Public Service Association (PSA).

Ms Tebbutt yesterday supported employers across the State as they called on the Federal Government to reconsider the decision that she believes will cost jobs and 10 years of productive work.

"For eight years, DETNAC has helped build the NSW economy with its high-quality support for apprentices, trainees and employers," Ms Tebbutt said.

"Last December, the Commonwealth Government's own assessment system gave DETNAC a 98 per cent quality service rating and a 93 per cent satisfaction rating among apprentices and employers that had used its services.

"It is unbelievable that the Federal Government will cut a service which, by its own rating system, is ranked higher than the national average for similar agencies."

Ms Tebbutt said the list of successful contractors released by the Federal Government gave no indication of where they would operate, adding further to the concerns of employers, apprentices and trainees.

The PSA said it appeared the Federal Government had put politics ahead of the interests of young workers.

"DETNAC is the largest, most successful provider of these services in Australia, with a skills base second to none. The tragedy is these highly skilled workers will be lost to the system," PSA general secretary John Cahill said.

However, the Federal Minister for Vocational and Technical Education, Gary Hardgrave, was 'delighted' that such a diverse range of organisations had expressed enthusiasm to provide apprentice and trainee services across Australia.

"While many existing New Apprenticeship Centres have retained their contracts, there are a number of new organisations ready to embrace the challenges facing the vocational and technical education sector," Mr Hardgrave said.

Local DETNAC staff were informed yesterday not to speak to the media.

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