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Ai Group and SA partnership prepares Australia's future defence workers

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The Australian Industry Group (Ai Group) will manage a new Higher Apprenticeships Program under the Skilling South Australia initiative to develop the future workforce to meet the growing demand for a highly skilled defence industry workforce.

Ai Group has partnered with the training sector and defence industry to forge a new vocational education and training (VET) pathway into defence manufacturing, this new project will create 100 engineering technician apprenticeships over the next four years.

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Minister for Industry and Skills David Pisoni said this project is a prime example of what Skilling South Australia aims to achieve – real jobs outcomes for South Australians and a skilled workforce to match thriving industries.

"Our Skilling South Australia initiative is a $100 million investment to create 20,800 apprenticeships and traineeships over four years, with a further $102.6 million provided by the Australian government under the Skilling Australians Fund National Partnership Agreement," Minister Pisoni said. 

The program blends the best of vocational and higher education to develop a range of skills, with a focus on emerging technologies. Existing mechanical engineering trade units are complemented with the study of robotic systems, cloud-based data and computer aided design tools. Apprentices develop advanced technical skills through theoretical and on-the-job training while employed as an apprentice, before graduating with a Diploma in Applied Technologies.

Ai Group, chief executive, Innes Willox said, "Ai Group has a strong commitment to developing the skills required for companies embarking upon their digitalisation journey. As chair of the official Industry 4.0 Advanced Manufacturing Forum, successor to the Prime Minister's Industry 4.0 Taskforce, we are working with industry and government to ensure companies can engage in the ongoing industry transformation. Central to this is the development of Industry 4.0 capability and strategy inside business."

The Ai Group Higher Apprenticeships Program is an innovative combination of VET and higher education, where apprentices develop advanced technical skills through theoretical and on-the-job training before graduating with a Diploma in Applied Technologies.

"This is a more comprehensive qualification than the standard Certificate III or IV, addressing the need for higher level vocational skills in defence manufacturing and allowing graduates to go on to complete a bachelor’s degree if they desire," Minister Pisoni explained. 

The Training and Skills Commission has now determined the Diploma in Applied Technologies can be added to the Traineeship and Apprenticeship Pathways Schedule, and the South Australian government will add the course to the list of subsidised training courses in 2019.  

The $100 million Skilling South Australia program operates in conjunction with an additional $103 million provided by the Commonwealth government as part of the Skilling Australians Fund National Partnership Agreement to create an additional 20,800 apprenticeships in South Australia over the next four years.

The Skilling South Australia Project Guidelines are available here. More information about apprenticeships is available here.

Ai Group and SA partnership prepares Australia's future defence workers
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