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The building and construction industry has called on Fair Work Australia’s review of the modern award for apprentices and trainees to clarify the role of the States and Territories in apprentice regulation.
CEO of Master Builders Australia, Wilhelm Harnisch, said the line between Modern Award regulation and State and Territory legislation needs to be clear to help protect young people’s jobs.
“The review of modern awards for apprentices and trainees is the perfect opportunity to clarify who has jurisdiction to govern apprentice regulation. There is too much grey in whether modern awards can cover matters beyond merely setting wages and hours of work for apprentices and trainees.
“The union’s vision for modern award regulation would vastly increase costs to employers and strain the industry’s capacity to train young apprentices. As an example, a 10 per cent increase in the minimum wage is estimated to result in a reduction in teenage employment by between one and three per cent.
“The modern award review must introduce sustainable models of wage progression to help protect apprentices and trainees,” Mr Harnisch said.
The Commonwealth Government has proposed the introduction of competency based wage progression for apprentices and trainees under modern awards. Master Builders supports this concept in principle, but that the Commonwealth needs to undertake greater research on exactly how it would be implemented.
“The Commonwealth needs to tell the review Full Bench how competency based wage progression will work in practice and how the proposed arrangements will be integrated with State and Territory apprentice systems.
“A properly researched and co-operatively introduced competency based wage progression scheme would work. But the CFMEU is stuck in the past with arbitrarily devised wage increases, as they have proposed in the review of the Building and Construction General On-Site Award.
“The unions have missed an opportunity to help apprentices move to competency based wage progression. They have instead introduced an argument about wage increases, which must now become the primary focus of proceedings in Fair Work Australia.
“A co-operative effort is needed to introduce a well-researched approach for the modern award review. It must take into account who has jurisdiction over apprentice regulation. The change must be implemented in a manner that benefits apprentices and trainees without adding costs which will work against many young people from getting jobs,” Mr Harnisch said.
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