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Tuesday, 4 October 1983
Page: 1322

Question No. 449


Mr Spender asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice, on 6 September 1983:

Will he (a) provide details of the extent to which trade qualifications required in any of the 3 branches of the armed forces are recognised in the various States and Territories of the Commonwealth and (b) to the extent that such trade qualifications are not recognised, give the reasons for this non- recognition.


Mr Scholes —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

Although the matter is of concern, the question goes beyond the scope of my portfolio which does not have responsibility for these broader civilian workforce-related matters and the associated mechanisms for consultation with State authorities. I have, nevertheless, provided answers to the question as I understand the situation. Should a more definitive answer be required, I suggest that you refer the matter to my colleague the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations.

(a) Four categories of armed service apprentices and trainees can be identified :

(1) Army apprentices in Victorian proclaimed trades are registered with the Victorian Industrial Training Commission and receive the same trade certificates as civilian apprentices.

(2) Navy apprentices and adult trainees in New South Wales proclaimed trades are registered with the Apprenticeship Directorate in New South Wales and receive the same trade certificates as civilian apprentices.

(3) Air force apprentices are not registered with any apprenticeship authority and consequently do not receive the same apprenticeship certificate as their civilian counterparts. Recently arrangements have been made under the Tradesmen' s Rights Regulation (TRR) Act to issue tradesmen's certificates to ex-RAAF apprentices in certain metal and electrical trades provided that they meet established criteria.

Apprentices in trades which are not TRR Act trades but which are proclaimed trades in certain States may also gain recognition.

(4) Army and Air Force adult trainees are not registered with any apprenticeship authority.

It is worthy of note that recognition as a tradesman by one State is accepted across the Commonwealth. Army and Navy apprentices and Navy adult trainees, because of registration of their indentures with State authorities, have full recognition in civilian life. The other two categories, ie Air Force apprentices and Army and Air Force adult trainees, can gain formal recognition through the TRR Act where the Act applies.

The TRR Act provides for central and local trade committees which represent unions, government and employers. The committees grant accreditation in the form of a tradesman's certificate which indicates acceptance for employment at trade level by virtue of the agreement of employers and unions that the tradesman's certificate is equivalent in standard to a completed apprenticeship contract or indenture. The TRR Act deals only with specified metal and electrical trades.

In trades outside those covered by the TRR Act, there is no national recognition machinery. However in proclaimed apprenticeship trades in some States, ex-servicemen may be able to get a form of tradesman accreditation under recently enacted legislation. It is understood that Victoria, New South Wales, and Queensland have such legislation.

In trades which are specific to the armed services, no civilian equivalent to the Service certificate exists.

(b) There are several reasons why a particular Service trade is not recognised formally in civilian industry; for example:

(1) The Service trade may have no equivalent in civilian industry;

(2) The Service trade may not be sufficiently similar to the nearest civilian trade to enable an equivalence to be determined; or

(3) There may be no machinery at Commonwealth or State level for providing formal recognition in the trade concerned. This would apply equally to servicemen and to civilians such as newly arrived migrants or refugees. The TRR Act is concerned with certain electrical and metal trades only.

In general formal recognition of trade qualifications obtained outside the apprenticeship system in Australia is the exception rather than the rule.

In preliminary meetings between officers of my Department, the Department of Employment and Industrial Relations and the Public Service Board it was agreed that further joint investigation to facilitate and improve civilian recognition is warranted and that the more immediate problem was centred in the middle level (TAFE Certificate) area. Since all three Services are involved any comprehensive investigation would require considerable effort and co-ordination. Recently I wrote to the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations requesting that an Interdepartmental Working Party be set up for this purpose.