Good idea stymied
By UTE SCHULENBERG
FOR Paul Hoffman, general manager of Express Coaches, it feels like four years of hard work is going down the drain.
With Nambucca Shire vehicle body manufacturing businesses working co-operatively, a nationally recognised training package sourced, TAFE on board and apprentices ready to go, he was hopeful this year would see the beginning of the dream to train local kids close to home to fill the industry's skills shortage.
With the debate over the skilled worker shortages raging nationally, it seemed to him that the Nambucca Vehicle Body Manufacturing Cluster's (NBVMC), of which he is chairman, was solving the problem here just in time.
But it was not to be.
The cluster has been told that the nationally recognised Bus, Truck and Trailer training package they had hoped to use has not been given accreditation at the State level.
The stumbling block is a bureaucratic requirement, peculiar to NSW, known as a Vocational Training Order (VTO).
"NSW is the only State that needs a VTO to get this training package accredited," Mr Hoffman said.
"We have been working with TAFE and Automotive Training Australia, the peak national industry body, to get this course delivered here this year.
"Now the 30 employees who should have been signed up to the package, have to be signed into an old program that doesn't properly meet our industry needs."
So what is the blockage with the VTO?
Well, partly it has to do with getting approval from the NSW branch of the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) and that has not been forthcoming.
Garry Hingle is the State secretary of the AMWU Vehicle Division.
He says there is already a trade course for motor body building in NSW and introducing this course would only be a duplication and a waste of precious education dollars.
"The course we currently have in NSW works well and has had a major update recently," Mr Hingle said.
"It has flexible modules so employers can choose what suits their unique business needs."
He says he has concerns that tradespeople graduating from the course will not automatically get their licence to work on registered vehicles from the NSW Motor Vehicle Repair Industry.
"The new course would have to be recognised first and that is complicated."
But Mr Hoffman argues the union should not be telling industry what it needs.
"The course we want to start here, Automotive Manufacturing (AUM), has been written by industry for industry and approved at a national level," Mr Hoffman said.
A meeting between industry, TAFE, Automotive Training Australia, DSRD, the AMWU and other associated parties will take place today in an attempt to bridge this bureaucratic chasm.