Nick Peters, from Coraki, cannot work as a carpenter in NSW despite gaining his qualifications in Queensland in 1974.
Nick Peters, from Coraki, cannot work as a carpenter in NSW despite gaining his qualifications in Queensland in 1974.

Trading places not so easy

By DOMINIC FEAIN dominic.feain@northernstar.com.au IF you’re having trouble finding tradesmen, then you probably won’t want to read this story.

Coraki carpenter Nick Peters has nearly 40 years building experience yet he has been told he can’t get a NSW contractor’s licence without redoing his technical training or undertaking a $4000 Skills Express program with NSW TAFE.

Because Mr Peters completed his apprenticeship in Queensland before 1995, the NSW Department of Fair Trading cannot issue him with a contractor’s licence without a TAFE certificate III in carpentry – a three-year, part-time course.

Mr Peters moved from Cairns 15 months ago and has struggled to negotiate the complex licensing, training and accreditation system in NSW that has seen him shuffled back and forth between the Department of Fair Trading, TAFE and the Australian Apprenticeship Centre.

“People are telling me their hands are tied and that I can only work under supervision for wages – and no one pays wages in the building industry any more,” he said.

“I can’t understand it. I mean, I didn’t have to show my passport at the border when I came down.”

The Office of the Minister for Fair Trading responded last week to Mr Peters’ predicament in an email to local MP Steve Cansdell’s office.

“The difficulty with Mr Peters’ qualification is that it is not nationally recognised,” the email said.

“The nationally recognised course has only been in existence for five to 10 years... [and] as it appears Mr Peters completed his apprenticeship 30 years ago, it is only recognised within Queensland.”

A local builder who asked not to be named told The Northern Star that we’d opened a can of worms.

“I’ve got chippies better than me who can’t get a%licence,” he said.

Katie Clarke, from the Central West Community College, a recruitment and training organisation operating across NSW in conjunction with the Australian Apprenticeship Centre, appreciates skills recognition can be a complex process.

“I’d suggest to Mr Peters there are avenues for him to have his current skills and knowledge assessed through the Trades Skills Recognition program, or through the apprenticeship system or a registered training organisation like TAFE that can deliver specific qualifications,” she said.

“The Master Builders Association or the Housing Industry Association could help.”



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