GTS Fund will help avert shortage of electricians
The Electrical Training Company (Etco) says the Group Training Scheme (GTS) Fund announced by Government last month will help avert a looming shortage of electricians in the country.
The GTS Fund is part of the Government's wider Apprenticeship Support Programme — a cross-agency response to help employers retain and bring on new people in training including apprentices, while dealing with the effects of COVID-19.
Etco is one of the schemes that has received support from the GTS Fund.
Jeremy Sole, chief executive at Etco, says "when our industry has a low intake of apprentices, it means there will be less qualified tradespeople in about three and a half years' time."
Mr Sole says "the electrical industry is already short of registered electricians which is a huge problem for the industry because regulators require a one-to-one ratio of supervisors to apprentices".
"If there are not enough registered people who can supervise, less apprentices can be taken on in future years. This means a shortage of apprentices today, can very quickly spiral into a 10-year skill shortage in the sector," says Mr Sole.
The Etco chief executive says the GTS Fund has alleviated this problem by allowing schemes to maintain their normal apprentice intake numbers, and to employ apprentices who have been made redundant because of COVID-19.
"The GTS Fund has also allowed us to support the host companies providing work experience for our apprentices by providing additional support to fast track the development of our apprentices," says Mr Sole.
Another good thing about the GTS Fund according to Mr Sole is that it enables schemes to provide experiences and opportunities for newly-employed apprentices while waiting for the sector workload to resume its normal pace and scale.
"Overall, this fund is facilitating positive outcomes for the sector that will have a positive effect over the next decade," says Mr Sole. "It also gives us confidence in making the business decisions that will facilitate that," he adds.
Very good move
"This support from the government is a very good move," says Bill Romano, one of Etco's apprentices.
"I feel great that because of this support, I can proceed with my electrical apprenticeship now and it won't be delayed as I have been waiting for quite a while," says Bill.
"This apprenticeship will make a good foundation for my career in the future," Bill adds.
Keenan Blair, another Etco apprentice, says "this government support has allowed me to start my apprenticeship with Etco this month (July) instead of early next year".
"I'm ecstatic to be starting my apprenticeship earlier as it means I'll be able to begin learning sooner and get into the work force sooner," says Keenan.
Group Training Schemes are industry-based training organisations which employ apprentices and provide related services to host businesses.
The GTS Fund aims to ensure apprentices employed by Group Training Schemes are retained by making the Schemes viable during the immediate aftermath of the lockdown due to COVID-19.
In June, the Government announced the $19.36 million GTS Fund which will be available until 30 June 2021.
The Fund is allocated through negotiations between the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) and existing Group Training Schemes.