The Electrical Trades Union (ETU) is appalled to hear about students at the Australian Industry Trade
College (AITC) who while enrolled in expensive private schooling, are working up to eight months a
year, completely unpaid.
The AITC accepts students as young as 15 in year 10 and is an independent school, funded by state
and federal governments, and fees paid by families. The fees differ across campuses and top out at
$9221 a year.
“It’s child slave labour and is a complete misappropriation of the concept of work experience. This
school is enabling exploitation and charging students for the ‘privilege’. It’s appalling and it’s
institutionalised exploitation,” says ETU State Organiser Luke Ellis.
“We’ve heard some of the students are even working overtime, night shifts and weekend work
without getting paid a cent. It’s clear that students feel as though they need to work these hours to
impress a prospective boss in the hopes of gaining future employment.”
“I have spoken to someone on the executive team at the school and requested that they send us
more details about the length of work experience placements,” says Mr Ellis.
The AITC has campuses all over South East Queensland, in Caloundra, Brisbane, Robina, Ipswich, and
Toowoomba, and union officials have spoken to multiple students across all campuses. The school’s
website says that students may complete up to seven weeks work experience continuously per term,
without getting paid.
“This means kids all across South East Queensland are being exploited. Schools should be instilling in
students the knowledge of the value of their labour and their time, not facilitating exploitation.
Across the campuses there are thousands of students who are likely working for free, or have done
at some stage.”
“From what we can see, the school is more interested in keeping the employers happy by providing
them with free labour than they are in students’ individual outcomes and ultimately, their careers
“We are calling on the AITC to re-evaluate its program and ensure students are getting paid for their
work,” says Mr Ellis.