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As Australian businesses grapple with skills shortages, the Federal Government is determined to boost the number of apprentices. At CathWest Innovation College, students will be able to complete a HSC and leave with a range of credentials and industry experience to help set them up for a future career.
- The number of people in apprenticeships and traineeships has fallen 12 per cent in the last four years
- Maths graduate Ellie Fanning says she felt uni was her only option after finishing high school
- An innovation college in western Sydney is seeking to tailor classes so they're personalised for students
Apprentices needed to ease skills shortages
The number of people in apprenticeships and traineeships has fallen by 12 per cent in the past four years, to just over 276,000.
Completion rates in the same period have dropped by almost 40 per cent.
"The effects on the economy are quite significant already, we've got many employers talking about worsening skills shortages and those complaints are actually across the economy," Megan Lilly from the Australian Industry Group said.
"But in terms of infrastructure projects or naval shipbuilding or other big initiatives, the fact that we don't have a suitable pipeline of skilled labour coming into them I think is a major cause for concern."
The Federal Government has made the issue a political focus, announcing a $525 million skills package, which includes support for an extra 80,000 new apprenticeships over five years.
It is also considering a proposed shake-up of the qualifications system to give students the flexibility to mix and match subjects from vocational and higher education.
Education Minister Dan Tehan is broadly supportive of the suggestions, although any changes are unlikely to be introduced until 2021.
PHOTO: Max Townes will go to a school with a focus on skills. (ABC News: Jade Macmillan)
PHOTO: Samantha Boreham's school is promising students a personalised curriculum that focuses on skills. (ABC News: Jade Macmillan)
PHOTO: Megan Townes says it's time for a change in school programs to better reflect the modern demands, like her son Max's desire to be an animator. (ABC News: Jade Macmillan)
One student who is already looking for a more flexible approach is Western Sydney teenager Max Townes.
Described by his mother Megan as her "quirky kid", Max has a passion for animation but doesn't feel engaged at his current high school.
"I go to school, I do my work, I be respectful and such, but then I just go home. I learn things but not really anything that I would find useful or interesting," he said.
Next year, Max is moving to CathWest Innovation College, a new school promising students more personalised classes with a strong focus on skills.
"They'll have an opportunity to talk to us about what they're interested in, what their passions are and what they'd like to do in their future, which may change several times between now and when they undertake that career," assistant principal Samantha Boreham said.
"And then for us we'll then map the curriculum around what it is that they'd like to do, choose the subjects that suits their needs and then project-based learning will be how we deliver the curriculum."
Students can still complete their Year 12 studies or a school-based apprenticeship or traineeship, but for students like Max, the idea is that they'll leave with a range of credentials and industry experience to help set them up for a future career.
"All of my kids have gone to great schools with great teachers, but the school system that was designed in the first industrial revolution doesn't really fit anymore," Max's mother, Megan, said.
"I think it's time for a change and I'm excited to see that change happening right now."