Hospitality Group Training

My questions are to the Minister for Employment, Higher Education and Skills and are in regard to Hospitality Group Training.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK ( 14:26 :35 ): My questions are:

1.Is the minister aware that there are problems confronting Hospitality Group Training?

2.Will the minister outline the issues faced by Hospitality Group Training as she understands them?

3.What is this government doing to support the apprentices and trainees employed through HGT to ensure that they are able to complete their training?

The Hon. G.E. GAGO (Minister for Employment, Higher Education and Skills, Minister for Science and Information Economy, Minister for the Status of Women, Minister for Business Services and Consumers) ( 14:27 :08 ): I thank the honourable member for her most important questions. Indeed, I was very sorry to hear the news yesterday of HGT going into administration; it was a very sorry day indeed. I was advised that they had entered into administration on the 24th and that they have appointed Clifton Hall as the administrator.

As I am sure members here would know, HGT is a good training organisation that employs apprentices and trainees and places them with host employers in the hospitality industry. They have been highly renowned as a quality trainer and GTO. They have been in this space for around about 30 years providing excellent apprenticeships and excellent quality training, so it is indeed very sad to see that they have entered into administration.

HGT had been in contact with my department previously, and we had worked with HGT on a number of matters. HGT currently employs, I am advised, 18 staff, with around 116 apprentices and trainees presently, who they host to other businesses. HGT is also a Skills for All training provider, and the closure of the Hospitality Industry Skills Centre will impact approximately 300 learners, I am advised, of whom 162 are apprentices and trainees, and that includes those 116 directly employed apprentices and trainees.

As I have said, this government places great importance on ensuring that we understand the needs of the sector, that we understand employers' needs and training needs, and that we work very hard with the industry to create a long-term, stable and viable training sector into the future. So we consult with the industry and employers to ensure that we develop employment priorities.

Over the years the training sector has become increasingly more competitive. It was part of the national partnership agreement with the federal government, that more private operators enter the system to increase competition. That has impacted on all jurisdictions here in South Australia. It resulted in a handful or so of private providers, prior to Skills for All, and we are now operating I think about 170 private providers (or it might be just under that) so you can see that there has been a large influx of private providers into this sector and that clearly brings greater competition and challenges to the sector.

We have worked with HGT in the past to help identify training and diversification opportunities for them. It is to be noted that HGT are operating in the same business environment as the rest of the industry. In relation to other detailed business matters, they are matters for HGT and they would need to be addressed to either HGT or the administrators.

The other part of the question was what we are doing with the apprentices. Our office (DSD) has already met with the administrators. We are working with those apprentices who are currently employed by HGT to move over to other employment contracts so that they can finish the employment component of their apprenticeship. For those students who have training that is incomplete we will again be assisting wherever we can to help those students move to alternate training providers that can fulfil the completion of that training requirement.

We will continue to work with the administrators to do all we can in that space to ensure that the students who are affected can move to the successful completion of their apprenticeship and their other training requirements.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK ( 14:32 :45 ): I have a supplementary question. Can the minister outline what representations HGT has made to her in relation to contributing factors to its collapse, and can she confirm whether this includes bridging units and the structure of Skills for All?

The Hon. G.E. GAGO (Minister for Employment, Higher Education and Skills, Minister for Science and Information Economy, Minister for the Status of Women, Minister for Business Services and Consumers) ( 14:33 :02 ): As I indicated, we have met and discussed with HGT, on a number of occasions, matters relating to their business. I am not prepared to give details of those; they are matters that go to the business of HGT and some of them are fairly commercially sensitive. It would be most improper of me to discuss the business matters of HGT. That is a matter for them to discuss. I advise the Hon. Michelle Lensink to direct those specific questions to them.

We did meet with them on a number of occasions to work through issues that they had identified. As I said, we tried to assist in relation to diversifying or broadening their training scope, and a number of other matters as well. Clearly, those measures have not been enough to turn this around. It is most unfortunate as they are an excellent training provider and a GTO, and it is very sad to see them moving into administration. However, I think it is important to remind honourable members that being in administration does not necessarily mean that long term business operation has not been determined. It is really important that we don't do anything to undermine their potential to eventually work their way through this. I remind honourable members that this is only one step and long-term business outcomes have clearly not yet been determined.