Electricians, Licensing

13 May 2009 questionsarchive

I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking the Minister for Consumer Affairs a question about electrician licensing.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: I have been contacted by a constituent who feels that he has been given unnecessary hurdles to jump in applying for an electrician's licence. He was an apprentice electrician in the 1960s and completed the theory component of the qualification through an electrical trade school which no longer exists. To prove this qualification as an electrical mechanic, he has a certificate with a parchment and a subject transcript acquired recently through TAFE SA, which took over all the records when the electrical trade school closed.

When this gentleman first visited the Office of Consumer and Business Affairs with a certificate of qualification, he was told he needed a transcript of completed subjects from the training provider, which is when he approached TAFE. On his second visit to OCBA, he was told that he required a certificate stating that he completed at least three years of the apprenticeship and a certificate for the wiring rules exam. To date, he has not been shown a list of criteria for applying for the licence.

Can the minister please outline the criteria for a person in this gentleman's position, whose time has elapsed between completing the apprenticeship and the application, in order to successfully achieve the licensing requirements?

Members interjecting:

The PRESIDENT: Order! The Hon. Ms Lensink has the floor.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: Furthermore, will she instruct the Office of Consumer and Business Affairs to make sure that it is giving clear directions to people applying for a licence?

The Hon. G.E. GAGO (Minister for State/Local Government Relations, Minister for the Status of Women, Minister for Consumer Affairs, Minister for Government Enterprises, Minister Assisting the Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Energy) (14:32): I thank the honourable member for her important question. I know that this has caused some degree of anxiety and stress amongst electricians and other licensed tradespeople. Qualifications are updated from time to time to ensure that appropriate skills and knowledge are taught to tradespeople on whose work our lives, safety and wellbeing often rely. As we know, none of us want a house fire in the middle of the night because of some bad wiring or similar faults or breaches.

These qualifications are all about ensuring that our tradespeople meet contemporary standards, and they do that through a series of qualifications that they are required to meet and through on-the-job training and experience. In terms of the articulation between old qualifications and new qualifications, because they do change and evolve over the years, as they should, my understanding is that—and I can clarify this—TAFE does those assessments.

TAFE looks at the curriculum, the previous qualifications achieved, previous experience and length of experience in the industry, the type of work that was done and in which sector of the industry people worked. They look at those things and accredit accordingly in terms of acknowledging accreditation of past qualifications and experience. That is a matter for an educational expert; it is not something that I, as minister, would do. I do not have the skill and expertise to do that, and it is certainly way outside my responsibilities as minister.
My responsibility is to make sure that here, in South Australia, contemporary standards and qualifications are set and that they are adhered to and reviewed from time to time as needed.

I certainly believe that I fulfil those responsibilities with a great deal of diligence and conscientiousness. In terms of the qualifications of this particular person, I do not have those details. I am happy to receive those from the honourable member. I am happy to have the department look at those and ensure that the appropriate education authority assesses them to see that all accreditation and acknowledgment of existing qualifications and experience are accredited in an appropriate way and that this person is assessed as to whether they are fit for their licence.