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Apprentice numbers on the rise

The latest data from the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) show there were 402,245 apprentices and trainees in-training as at 30 September 2022, 14 per cent higher than at the same time in 2021. The figures, in the report Apprentices and trainees 2022: September quarter, also show apprentice and trainee completions increased to 24,655 in the September quarter 2022, up 33.4 per cent from the same quarter in 2021. Completions in trade occupations drove most of the increase in the quarter, rising to 13,130 or by 46.6 per cent from the September quarter 2021. Those in non-trade occupations increased to 11,505 – up by 20.8 per cent. Despite the overall year on year increase, in-training numbers have declined since 30 June 2022. This in part reflects a decline in commencing apprentices and trainees in the September quarter. NCVER Managing Director, Simon Walker said: “The decline in commencements in the September quarter likely reflects changes to wage subsidies provided to employers of apprentices and trainees through the Australian government.”

IDT Australia secures upgrade to TGA licence

The Therapeutic Goods Administration has upgraded the sterile drug manufacturing licence of Melbourne manufacturer IDT Australia (pictured), allowing it to manufacture and release injectable medicines for clinical trials. The company will now add injectables to its clinical trials offerings of orals and active pharmaceutical ingredients, working with researchers to ensure their trials needs are met. IDT said the upgrade would inlock a sales pipeline which stands at $6 million. CEO Paul McDonald said: “The upgraded licence will enable us to play a crucial role in supporting Australia’s sovereign manufacturing capabilities and the transition of research to address unmet medical needs.”

Horizon Power acquires half of West Australian Alternative Energy

State-owned energy provider, Horizon Power, has taken a 50 per cent stake in West Australian Alternative Energy (WAAE.) The joint venture would bring together “significant renewable energy system expertise” and support the WA government’s commitment to an 80 per cent reduction in government emissions by 2030, according to a statement. WAAE began in Busselton in 2012 and is a specialist provider of commercial-scale solar energy systems, with over 20 employees. It successfully completed Horizon Power’s Kalumburu hybrid solar project – supporting the remote Kimberley community to transition to renewable energy — in March last year.  “The partnership will help tackle the supply chain issues and workforce constraints being felt across the country and support the acceleration of renewable energy solutions in our State,” said energy minister Bill Johnston.

Cremorne Digital Hub secures HQ, gets new board

The Cremorne Digital Hub is “entering a new phase in its development,” according to the Victorian government, after securing 80 Balmain Street as headquarters, and appointing a new CEO and board. The Hub “will continue to build on Cremorne’s transformation from a manufacturing centre to a magnet for high-tech businesses and innovation jobs”, where over 700 businesses and around 10,000 workers are based currently, including at SEEK, REA Group, and MYOB. Through the Artesian-managed $50 million Cremorne Venture Fund, the Hub will also play an active role in commercialisation by investing in new digital companies. Mark Sims has been named as CEO and prominent corporate executive and investor Monique Conheady will serve as inaugural Chair of the Hub – which was established with support from the Victorian government.

Woolworths-backed incubator reports positive early results

FMCG incubator and accelerator Seedlab Australia, which was backed by $4 million from supermarket chain Woolworths and has been operating since 2021, recently shared its first impact report. According to Seedlab, this revealed “astoundingly positive effects” from their incubator program, Bootcamp, and their accelerator program, Cultivate, in their first 18 months. According to the organisation, Cultivate helped to launch at least 32 new products into Woolworths, businesses led by 74 per cent women and 8 per cent First Nations people. After completing Bootcamp, participating businesses collectively increased their turnover by $6.55 million with $10.9 million forecasted for the next 12 months. Founder Dr Hazel-MacTavish West, who started Seedlab with business partner and husband, Darren West, said, “Entering the huge and highly competitive Australian FMCG sector is daunting, difficult, and fraught with risk of failure and financial ruin… This kind of support is priceless. For our participants, participation in Seedlab is also free, thanks to the support from Woolworths.

Picture: IDT Australia/sterile manufacturing

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