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The Corporation

Posted: 12/07/10

Australian apprenticeships chief visits college

The boss of Australia’s largest provider of apprenticeships has paid a visit to West Nottinghamshire College to see how it is following the same route to success.

David Windridge, chief executive of MEGT (Australia) Ltd, the country’s most successful apprenticeships centre and support service, visited the college today (12 July), to learn more about its Vision Apprentices scheme and meet young people benefitting from the scheme.

Vision Apprentices was launched in April to recruit more than 2,500 manufacturing, engineering and maintenance apprentices over the next three years in sectors such as advanced manufacturing, passenger transport and logistics.

It is one of 12 Apprenticeship Training Associations (ATAs) and Group Training Associations (GTAs) set up across the country to boost apprenticeship places for 16 to 18-year-olds in industries vital to the country’s economic growth.

These are companies or partnerships acting as recruitment services that employ the trainees themselves and place them with host employers. A concept first devised in Australia, they offer firms greater flexibility than employing apprentices directly.

Vision Apprentices, a wholly-owned subsidiary of West Nottinghamshire College, is the first ATA in the East Midlands.

Mr Windridge’s visit included a tour of the college’s state-of-the-art Construction and Logistics Skills Academy in Kirkby-in-Ashfield, where he met students on the logistics courses and saw the logistics warehouse and the rail track training facility where students are learning their trade.

It forms part of a seven-day fact-finding mission organised by East Midlands Development Agency and the National Apprenticeship Service for Mr Windridge to learn more about apprenticeships in England and gain a broader view of the educational landscape, as well as share his expertise with organisations following the Australian model. 

Managing director of Vision Apprentices, Graham Howe, said: “I’m honoured the head of Australia’s largest apprenticeship organisation has visited us to learn how we’re tackling the employability agenda by promoting apprenticeships as a mainstream vocational option for young people.

“This is a valuable opportunity to find out what has made the Australian apprenticeship model such a major success and gain Mr Windridge’s insight into how we can build on this with our own scheme.”

Mr Windridge said: “The ATA is a new programme that West Nottinghamshire College is embarking on but already I can see that the college is on the right tracks to success and great progress has been made so far.

“I'm interested in coming back to visit in the future to see how the programme develops and I‘m also keen to look at ways for the college and MEGT to join together with business arrangements.”

Launched in 1998, MEGT serves around one-third of Australia’s apprenticeships market and is the only organisation with a Government contract in all States across the country.

Mr Windridge has overseen the growth of MEGT from a staff of four people in Melbourne’s outer-east to a national company, with over 60 offices in Australia employing more than 800 staff.