December – From the CEO’s desk

As 2014 comes to a close, a few words from David Edgar, ATEP CEO.

“The year past has been a productive one on numerous fronts for ATEP so far, with another 120 males and 36 females commencing employment with ATEP working towards achieving a nationally recognised qualification. In addition, 42 males and 12 females finished employment with ATEP once completing their chosen qualification and heading into the next stage of their working lives.

As importantly, ATEP have once again provided some direct financial assistance to 44 secondary and special development school students to ensure they could participate in vocational educational and training programs as part of their schooling and start to explore their respective post school future and career pathways.

Through 2014 our industry and business have again encountered some major economic challenges due to cost savings through reduced workforces in many of our host employer customers businesses and ongoing government policy changes that don’t support or encourage employers to consider and/or commit to taking on an apprentice or trainee, especially when operating cash and funds are tight.

All of which serve as direct inhibitors to ATEP’s ongoing objective of increasing our service levels and legitimate career pathway job opportunities for many people in the community.

After the past 3-4 years of trading through a similar environment we should and are somewhat used to it but sadly, after 25 years of receiving some level of commonwealth Joint Group Training Policy funding support to provide the group training employment services, ATEP have been “knocked on the head” from 30 June 2015 as part of the federal government’s budget cuts and broader Vocational Education and Training (VET) reform policies now being implemented across the country.

Importantly, the removal of the funding is in no way a reflection of anything ATEP has or hasn’t done.

Simply, we (ATEP) are one of many vocational education and youth pathways services that have been left out in the cold nationally and given little transitional support or time to do so. Whilst we are a standalone independent organisation, ATEP is just 1 of over 130 Group Training Organisations (GTO’s) across Australia that will have to endure the decision.

Since our inception in 1985, ATEP has always been a “not for profit” community based organisation established to support and build community capacity in the regions we service. To this end, we have stayed true to our company philosophy of servicing the community through all sorts of economic and political changes for nearly 30 years.

What I mean by “staying true” is our long standing key objective of assisting the many individuals that have become ATEP employed Apprentices/Trainees and delivering the free recruitment and very cost effective labour hire functions to the many Host Employers we do and have provided services to has stayed “front and centre” in our business model.

No doubt the obvious and big question is, what will the removal of this long standing funding mean to ATEP?

To best explain, the answer is twofold,

– Firstly, ATEP is a viable business and we have no intention of ceasing any element of our long standing employment service delivery whilst acknowledging that the loss of funding will directly impact our business. Existing ATEP apprentices/Trainees and Host Employer customers won’t see any changes in what they have become accustomed too during their time with ATEP. Our many key stakeholders in the community need not worry about ATEP not continuing to directly contribute to school to work pathways through vocational education and training or being a part of the ongoing important conversations.

– Secondly, we do have an opportunity to apply or tender for what is now the revised VET policy funding – Australian Apprenticeship Support Services (AASN) which is due to commence from 1 July 2015. The AASN concept will replace the existing Australian Apprentice Centre services that have been in place for over a decade and pick up some new elements which in simple terms would have been standard GTO service functions.
In summary, like in times past ATEP will need to adjust our main sail to counter the strong head winds and move forward. While we could and would rather do without the swing shift change and financial impact to our daily business, within all adversity sits an element of opportunity and that is where our focus is and needs to be into 2015.

I can advise readers that ATEP are doing just that and have commenced our AASN tender application process already. We will put our best foot forward to secure some new and additional commonwealth support under the AASN funding model and continue to seek out other levels of support to keep our employment model and services at a high standard and low cost as possible.”

We wish you a safe and enjoyable “Merry Christmas” and/or “Happy Holidays”.