CA Trade Talk – Maintaining Integrity in Carpentry Trade Training
Alright fellas, a couple of weeks back we posted part of a flyer from a RTO offering the Carpentry Certificate III in 9 days. It sparked some pretty fierce debate – thanks to all of you who got involved and we’ll come back to why that’s so important later!
This is a big topic, and one that we all need to be on top of because it poses significant issues, for the trade, for the industry and for the wider community too. We made contact with the RTO in question prior to posting to clarify that this is NOT a RPL course, it’s not gap training: it IS for those with existing experience in the trade but the intention is to fully teach the Certificate III in the 9 day period.
So with that out of the way, here’s our take:
1) Even with experience requirements, the question remains: “Can suitable training for a technically skilled trades qualification be delivered in such a short time?”
2) We’re all aware that a skill shortage exists, but is faster training the answer? Have the long-term negative impacts of quick “tick and flick” qualifications been properly considered?
3) We KNOW that poor retention in the trade is having an impact on the numbers of carpenters – it’s a fact that we’re leaking quality tradesmen from the industry because they’re unable to survive the fast-paced business world, at a rate of over 53%*. With this in mind, would we not be better served to help those who are already in the industry to be able to survive and thrive in their trade for longer? (Note: this understanding forms a big part of the CA Mission to support qualified and training carpenters in their work).
4) If we train more and more new industry entrants, ignoring those falling out of the trade, we’re also diminishing the average experience levels, and importantly, quality levels of work being done. The pressure on this downward spiral increases – more competition comes in with less skill, less experience and less business awareness leads to undercutting from all corners, bringing the rates down to a place where they’re barely sustainable, and trades struggle to keep their business and livelihood.
5) With low rates available in the marketplace for chippies, employers are driven to seek out training providers that are cheapest and can offer the least contact hours, so he can keep apprentices on site generating revenue.
6) Pressure is felt by TAFEs and other RTOs – the market is dictating that less contact hours, lower costs and minimum training is what must be offered to compete – it’s impossible to expect quality standards won’t be compromised.
Bottom line is, if we push for quantity over quality, we’re going to quickly end up with a trade qualification with less integrity, lower standards and increased competition, resulting in reduced rates and a breakdown in respect for carpenters.
This isn’t happening for the plumbing and electrical trades, who have established, independent associations which support their trades and protect their training, but it has been allowed to happen to carpenters.
If this frustrates you, we’re with you… but that’s only the first step. Getting involved on Facebook and Instagram might not seem important, but it’s a critical element for the long-term improvement of our trade. Not only can we showcase high quality work and “what not to do”s, you’re all also becoming part of a community of carpenters. This is a platform for us all to interact and have a say in what drives our industry now and where we’d like to take it. Hats off to all of you for getting amongst it and keep it up!
Lastly, get behind us, get on board as a CA member, and let’s get a better future for the carpentry trade, for all of us. We can’t do it without you.
*53% of new businesses within the construction sector failed within their first four years of operating, between 2008 and 2012. Australian Bureau of Statistics
Talking point taken from our Facebook Page – to view the full discussion and get involved, click here.