ELECTRICAL apprentices are arcing up over proposed changes that would see them, or their families, foot the bill for becoming a sparky.
Electrical Trade Union members picketed outside the Esplanade Hotel last Saturday as the Master Electricians Australia met inside.
The union says the changes under consideration would damage the integrity of the electrical license system and shift training costs onto young Aussies, with no guarantee of a job.
ETU’s Mark Burgess says the MEA want to shift to unsupervised online training.
“We are facing a situation where debt servitude, night school and unsupervised learning are taking us back to the dark ages of the “master-servant” relationship that existed in the 19th century. We need 21st century apprenticeships teaching 21st century skills,”
MEA head honcho Malcolm Richards said the union was premature in its concerns and the conference was discussing options, with nothing decided yet.
Proposed reforms would give aspiring electricians more flexibility because they wouldn’t have to be locked into an employer, he says.
“If your child wants to study accounting or law, or be a doctor…they can get in to study…Unfortunately our industry discriminates against people. They can only get trained if they have an employer.”
Under the proposed MEA changes the first year would be a paid course, and the following three would be employer-funded apprenticeships, Mr Richards said.
by TRILOKESH CHANMUGAM