Trainees left in the lurch

COFFS Coast youth will have to fend for themselves in an uncertain jobs market when changes to a highly successful school-based trainee scheme come into effect next month.

The School Based Apprenticeship and Trainee Scheme, which combines paid work with school and provides an industry-recognised national qualification and credit towards the HSC, is slated to change at the end of the first school term, with North Coast staff specifically employed for the scheme losing their positions after April 10.

Member for Coffs Harbour, Andrew Fraser, said the changes mean the positions of School Based Trainee Liaison Officer and support staff is to be dissolved and the onus for oversight of the scheme will be placed back on the schools.

“It's a retrograde step against a scheme that has provided great service to both employers and students,” Mr Fraser said.

“The changes are nothing more than a cost shifting exercise by the Department of Education and Training to schools.”

The Pet Porpoise Pool currently employs two school-based trainees but plans to employ a third have been put on hold following changes to scheme.

The Department of Education and Training was contacted but no reply was received by deadline.

Unions Hastings and Macleay president, Jim Hutcheon, said the move leaves school-based apprentices and trainees 'in the lurch'.

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