Group Training was established in the early 1980s by industry leaders in the building and automotive sectors with support from government agencies. The concept was developed largely in response to the needs of many small businesses. These smaller businesses found it difficult, given the unpredictable nature of building, construction and automotive work, to make the commitment to employ apprentices for the full duration of their apprenticeship. This led to a concern about future skill shortages for the industry and a concern about missed opportunities for the employment of young people. GTOs provided an industry-wide response to uncertain economic and employment conditions. The concept was to create organisations that would recruit and employ apprentices and place them with one or more host employers for the duration of their training, often over a four year period. GTOs were created and by taking on the employment burden, several objectives were met.
- stable employment opportunities for young people;
- a hassle free supply of apprentices for small businesses;
- rotation of apprentices to ensure continuing employment and a breadth of experience;
- a method of meeting skill needs in areas where employment cycles or the size of employers made long term employment difficult;
- a mechanism for placing out-of-trade apprentices; and
- a mechanism for ensuring future skills could be addressed.
Group training grew slowly at first. However, in 1981 the Group Apprenticeship Scheme was established, and the Commonwealth and State/Territory governments agreed jointly to fund the administrative costs of not-for-profit GTOs and to provide support and encouragement for their establishment. The availability of funding encouraged growth.
- 1985 the Group Training Association of Victoria was established
- 1986 traineeships were first introduced
- By 1990 there were approximately 90 GTOs offering employment and training to around 10,000 apprentices and 1,000 trainees across Australia
- In 1991 Group Training Australia was established as a national association for not-for-profit GTOs.
- Apprenticeship & traineeship numbers continued to grow from approximately 17,000 in 1995 to over 38,000 in June 2000
- There are 181 GTOs throughout Australia today, employing approximately 48,000 apprentices & trainees who are placed with more than 35,000 host employers.
Organisations operating solely as GTOs are in the minority. The group training activity of employing apprentices and trainees and managing them through the use of host employers is usually accompanied by other government funded and/fee for-service activities.
As the years have progressed, there has been a change in demographics in Group Training apprentices and trainees and government programs with incentives:
- Increase of females (predominantly in Traineeships)
- Increase in mature age
- Increase in Indigenous (attributed to government initiatives)
- Increase of those with a disability
- Increase in non-English speaking background
- More support provided to those with learning difficulties
The National Standards for Group Training Organisations were developed in May 2002 by the Ministerial Council for Vocational and Technical Education (MCVTE) to provide a formal framework that promotes national consistency and quality for group training. The Standards aim to support the improvement of GTO practice and the credibility of their services to industry. They cover the following areas:
- systems for group training services including management of hosting. This standard aims to ensure GTOs have systems in place to plan for and provide quality group training services to apprentices, trainees and host employers;
- compliance with Commonwealth, State/Territory legislation and regulatory requirements. This standard requires GTOs to integrate legislative and regulatory rights and responsibilities into its policies and procedures;
- effective financial management procedures. This standard aims to ensure that GTOs financial policy and procedures are maintained and reflect actual practice.
- effective administrative and records management procedures. Through this standard the integrity, accuracy and currency of the GTOs records can be assured;
- effective corporate governance. This standard aims to ensure that GTOs have appropriate structures and processes in place for decision making, accountability and control of the GTO;
- access and equity. This standard requires GTOs to incorporate access and equity principles in their operations;
- the skills of GTO staff. This standard aims to ensure that each member of GTO staff who is involved in the provision of group training services is skilled for the functions performed; and
- ethical practice. This requires GTO boards, management and staff to behave ethically in the provision of group training services.
The National Standards are reviewed at regular intervals.
The role of GT Field officers has become more complex with the introduction of government programs, monitored compliance, increased accountability, policy and procedures.
The Group Training Association of Victoria consulted members, both at a senior level and at the coal face to establish the rational for the development of a Field Officer qualification. It is recognized that the group training industry has matured to a level where it wants to identify and establish professional (industry) standards of practice. The following six points represents the most common feedback received.
- Want an industry specific qualification (currently only generic qualifications)
- There is a demand (from both Field Officers and management)
- Training for Field Officers and recognition of the skills and knowledge required to perform the role may increase retention
- GTA Vic has already participated in the establishment/development of IR, OH&S, Literacy & Numeracy training and would like to apply them certificated training (complete the package)
- There needs to be a level/ standard which is positioned and recognized above competitors in the field and allows all GTO FO staff to be trained to a uniform level (bad practices will not be handed down).