Trainees in chains


Councils pay course fees, provide transport or pay reasonable travelling to attend course requirements, appropriate flexible work and study arrangements to complete major assignments and paid leave to attend course requirements off-site, to trainees.

Trainees are paid under the T scale in the Award, based on their age and whether they have the HSC, and progress subject to satisfactorily completing their studies.

Historically, councils all had professional trainees but, over time have thought it smart or not financially viable, to stop training people who might leave at the end of their training. About as smart as decisions by governments to shut down TAFE.

We hear reports of councils signing up trainees with an obligation to repay course fees if they leave within a certain period after qualifying. These councils, reactionary, slow thinking and not getting it that happy employees stay with an employer, think the way to keep these freshly qualified and enthusiastic employees is to prevent them leaving. Having well-paid, meaningful and satisfying work at the end of a successful traineeship is the key.

How does it not make sense, even to the obtuse that not only are they qualified, they have all the local knowledge obtained over that time, and they’re already there when national shortages in those professions mean councils struggle to attract new staff. Reward them, and keep them.  

The award is clear and explicit and does not provide for a Council to recoup costs. Fail a semester, and you need to repay the fee, but that’s as far as it goes.

If you are a trainee, or if you are our delegate at the Council, we need to know if your Council is making trainees sign something to require them to repay their course fees if they leave.

Is your Council doing this? Please let us know if they are and send us a copy of the document they are being asked to sign.

We don’t really know how many councils are doing this. Murray River was sprung doing it last year and Richmond Valley committing wage theft with a trainee earned them a Golden Turd in 2018.

There are even councils out there calling trainees cadets, to try to undermine award entitlements. They’re called cadets, so they’re not entitled to the provisions of the award, but they are still trainees.

We’d like to fix this, but we need to know where this is happening.

Copyright © 2024 The Development and Environmental Professionals' Association (depa). All Rights Reserved. Webdesign: Dot Online