New Report Explores The Road Ahead For Group Training

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12th August 2010, 01:20pm - Views: 937

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Patron - Her Excellency Ms Quentin Bryce AC Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia

GTA is the national peak body representing the network of over 150 Group Training Organisations (GTOs) employing

apprentices and trainees throughout Australia.

12 August 2010

New report explores the road ahead for group training 

Group Training Australia (GTA), representing the single largest network employing

apprentices and trainees,

today welcomed a new report into the future for

group training,

which takes a detailed look at opportunities and challenges facing the network.

The report, Looking Ahead: the


for group training –

an economic and industry

analysis”, represents a roadmap for the future direction of the group training network. It was

commissioned by GTA, and undertaken by the National Institute

of Economic and Industry


The Chief Executive Officer of GTA, Jim Barron said the report sheds light on the challenges

and choices confronting the network in meeting the needs of its stakeholders. 

“Over recent years, group training has been striving to serve two separate customers –

employers and government – with their competing needs and expectations.

“Employers expect group training to focus on providing a source of high quality apprentices

and trainees on commercial terms, while many in government expect group training to

provide a community service. There is a trade-off between a focus on community objectives

and a focus on commercial objectives, which can impact performance.

“Group training is at a critical juncture. After more than 30 years as an integral part of the

training and employment landscape, this report presents an opportunity to re-think its future

role including how it can be best utilised to promote jobs in skilled employment. 

“With its

established infrastructure, unsurpassed experience, a large workforce,

and well-

developed community links, the group training network is ideally placed to help government

meet both its labour market and social equity objectives.  

“None of this can be achieved without the appropriate resources. Improved


support would enable group training to play a central role in national workforce development,

which has been identified by Skills Australia as a critical pathway to future economic growth. 

“Few groups can match the group training network’s depth of expertise in linking thousands

of small and medium-sized businesses

to the training market in metropolitan, regional and

rural Australia.

“This network offers major opportunities to partner with government and other stakeholders

in helping to identify and develop the skills and expertise vital for a 21st century workforce,”

said Mr Barron. 

The report outlines the many advantages group training provides both

government and




“The network consistently delivers simplicity and convenience for its customers by taking

charge of the often complex process involved in hiring, deploying and mentoring apprentices

and trainees. 

“It’s clear that customers value the flexibility of the network, and the extensive pastoral care

that it provides.

“This is a real opportunity for the group training network to reflect on the business model that

has sustained it for past decades, and to assess how we respond and adapt in order to meet

current and future challenges,” said Mr Barron.


Key themes of the report attached. 

For a copy of the report contact:  Foresight Communications 02 9241 2811


Group Training Australia is the national peak body representing the network of over 150

Group Training Organisations (GTOs) employing apprentices and trainees throughout

Australia. GTA was recently awarded the Council of Small Business Organisations of

Australia (COSBOA) Small Business Champion Award 2010.

Media Contact:

Bob Bowden, Foresight Communications, 02 9241 2811, 0412 753 298,


KEY THEMES – Looking Ahead: the future for group training an economic and

industry analysis

The group training concept has been in operation for some 30 years, and is a uniquely

Australian model that was developed to serve as an intermediary in the labour market, linking

employers to apprentices and trainees in skilled occupations.  Group

training organisations

(GTOs) effectively facilitate this relationship, absorb risk and enhance outcomes for both

parties. There are more than 150 GTOs that employ approximately 35,000 apprentices and

trainees across Australia.

Between 1998 and 2008, the market share of apprentice training captured by GTOs declined.

More precisely, there was a declining share of apprentices “in-training” and apprentice

commencements but, following a sharp fall early in the decade, a constant or growing share

of apprentice completions. Three factors contributed to this:

tight labour market conditions that prevailed from the mid-1990s that saw

employers more inclined to employ directly rather than through third parties;

constraints around the ability of GTOs to expand the pool of skilled staff,

particularly in tight labour market conditions, and;

the emergence of substitutes for group training services, notably Australian

Apprenticeships Centres, but also education providers.

Increasingly, there are competing demands faced by GTOs in meeting the needs of two

different customers -

employers and governments. The difficulty in reconciling these

demands is highlighted by the trade-off that exists between GTOs achieving higher levels

of productivity, and higher rates of apprentice completions. A focus on community

objectives can lower productivity by up to 25% and completion rates by 5-10%.

The competitiveness of group training with other forms of employment (e.g. direct

employment) is not the same through the business cycle, with group training being less

competitive in a tight labour market. There are also differences across regions. Demand is

lower where there is high growth in commencements, and is less successful where there

are very high or very low rates of unemployment.  Group

training tends to be more

successful in traditional industries of manufacturing, mining, wholesale and transport.

Four group training business models have been identified; community, corporate, regional

and industry models.  No single model is necessarily superior. The appropriateness of each

model will depend on the circumstances of each GTO.  However, for GTOs to optimise

their performance, they need to be clear which model they are pursuing.

Options such as growth in size and scale, or increased geographic or industry diversity will

not necessarily

strengthen GTOs. Growth in size and scale needs to be well-resourced,

and geographic diversification needs to be carefully targeted. Generally, industry

specialisation is more successful than industry diversity, and industries with higher value

trade skills will be more successful than those with lower value skills.

The future of group training will be as a genuine intermediary in the labour market, offering

a suite of workforce development options that generate long-term value for customers at

competitive cost. Most will seek to meet the needs of government customers, as valued

partners in policy development who can deliver superior policy outcomes. 

A major impediment is a focus on the mechanism (group training) rather than the service

(workforce development).  Emphasising service delivery to identified customers has the

potential to liberate thinking within GTOs and the group training movement generally.  

The future for group training will require fundamental

changes to how GTOs position

themselves in the market and the services

they offer. It will entail comprehensive market

research of customers; expansion of staff competencies and structures, and; managers

who can lead through a period of change, negotiate shared service agreements or

mergers, understand markets, innovate, and control costs.

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