Army Cadet Apprentice System – A PAPER

In a Letter to the Editor here on the CONTACT web site last week, I posited an Army Cadet Apprentice School in response to a letter to Minister Keith Pitt in regards to crazy statements that he was going to get the Mining and Resource industries to generate and fill 80,000 thousand Apprenticeships.

In the time since Mr Pitt made that provocative statement (15 February 2020) till now there has been an avalanche of dollars and supposed job numbers to be created by those dollars, announced almost daily by the Prime Minister.

There is no perspective in all of these grossly exaggerated job and Apprenticeship numbers quoted by the PM and others.

What is shown is the spruikers have no idea of how much work and effort is involved in the actual workplace to Educate, Train and Apprentice people through to a completed and certified qualification.

FILE PHOTO (October 2018): Royal Australian Navy sailor Leading Seaman Cameron Campbell supervises Able Seaman Matthew Gates in a welding task. Photo by Petty Officer James Whittle, digitally enhanced by CONTACT (adding extra weld sparkles).

The misguided approach to solve all problems it seems is just throw money out and all will be put right. Unfortunately that is not and never will be the case.

To train any group and especially young Apprentices there needs to be a dedicated, disciplined and controlled environment.

This is a prerequisite to all the other aspects of a sound and complete establishment of learning.

All the things that make up a quality school or university of any ilk, such as the Teachers, Instructors, Lecturers, Facilities, Equipment, and Administration are all affected by the standards, particularly personal discipline, of the students.

The whole basis of the ACAS proposal stems from that very catalyst, self-discipline, dedication, routine, boundaries and a sense of belonging.

We have worked on telling the story of what the ACAS is all about, how to get it established and run, in a comprehensive Brief named and referenced as follows:


ACAS Brief – RPB 20thAugust 2020

Consideration was given to breaking the brief into parts however it may have detracted from the complete view and emphasis of the whole topic, so it is presented in full here (15 pages)..

It is hoped some logic may prevail in Government circles to see the merit and benefits in this proposal.





This paper has been written around two key things, solid character and apprenticeship training.

It focuses on Western Australia and the Building and Construction industry Trade Apprenticeship in WA.

The reason for this is that my colleagues and I have predominately came through that industry, trades and affiliated rolls here in WA.

Our experiences and knowledge is the cornerstone to the contents and reason for this paper.

We wish this paper to be read with the perspective that it applies equally to all trades and locations across Australia

The plight of the issues of character and competent apprenticeship training is right across the whole country.





The idea of a High School system being far more than just a school.

This is a proposition based around an Alternative High School method that incorporates life, living, learning, trade and working roll teaching, security and belonging.

It is thought a High School system with the spectrum of a complete village is something that should be seriously considered. Such a facility would have grounds enough to incorporate most aspects of life and living in addition to the normal academic and training functions of a school.

Also the type of Schooling, Accommodation and Belonging should encompass Apprenticeship Training, in particular the Building Trades, as well Skills and Rolls for the Rural ,Agricultural, Mining and Resources Industries.

The view is that all young people need routine, boundaries and a sense of belonging.

A huge part of this being to get kids to want to belong to something and want to care for what they are being provided in this type of School. Encouragement to look after everything around them, which includes all other people and property.

Embrace and develop the idea of a High School System that is foremost based on military type rules, principals, discipline, and dedication and above else personal pride and discipline.

With these standards in place it is reasonable to expect that the normal function of teaching high school aged children can only be enhanced.

In addition in this form of High School, the approach would be to concentrate on education subjects that lead to real careers and employment paths.

The new style High School would be a combination of the standard High School curriculum and a complete trade training capability equal to and perhaps even better than the existing TAFE trade training system. With the stand out difference being that all students would be Australian Army Cadets.

The reason for believing such a High School system could be better than TAFE trade training is because the pupils would be enrolled on a totally live- in basis.

The same as for Private Colleges or the past Australian Army Apprentice School or indeed as the British Army Apprentices School system where the catalyst for the AAS system first started some 170 years ago.

Trade training subjects and aspects would be far more intensive than that of TAFE, because the pupil and facilities are at hand all day, every day.

The existing TAFE system only has pupils (Apprentices) attend in small blocks though out each year. The requirement is that an apprentice should spend 2 weeks per term each year for 3 years (that is 4 terms x 2 weeks = 8 weeks per year)

Unfortunately for whatever reason this time period is not always adhered to and there are many apprentices spending as little a time as 4 – 6 weeks at TAFE each year…



The Proposal

Perhaps we need to simply look back in history to see what this country once had and try and emulate that within the constraints of today’s view of handling young people (eg: 15 year olds cannot be Soldiers as we were).

The proposition is that we embrace and develop the idea of a High School System that is foremost based on military type rules, principals, discipline, dedication, personal pride and belonging.

Therefore we are proposing that such a school could be run under the banner of the Australian Army Cadet Brigade and for the point of discussion this proposed college/school system could be called, Army Cadet Apprentice School.

Regardless of the name, the objective being to establish a base from which to grow young people, tradespeople, engineers, professionals across the spectrum, all with a great attitude and sound work ethic and always with the understanding of belonging to this place from where they started .

We believe there is a huge hole that could be overcome by the creation of such a designated school, andwithin that military style school, a means of assisting to help address some of the perennial problems with today’s teenagers and young adults.


Reasons for the Proposal

There are really only two (2) TAFE Campus/ Colleges in WA that actually teach Apprentices, especially in the Building Trades.

Now the first thing that will be said is what about all the other TAFE Campuses throughout the state and what about all the Registered Training Organisations (RTO) and Group Training Organisation’s (GTO).

Well what about them. When all the smoke and mirrors is cleared away, the actual Training / Lecturing / Instructing / Examining is all done by the North and South Metropolitan TAFE Establishments in Perth WA.

There are about fifty (50) or more TAFE Campuses throughout all the Metropolitan and Regional areas of WA.

Principally all trades’ people produced and who have a completed trade training certificate under their belts, come through / from the North and South MetropolitanTAFE Establishments in Perth WA.  A few others come through the Bunbury, Kalgoorlie, Geraldton and Albany Campuses.

The bulk of all the other TAFE Campus throughout WA has little or no success. Remote TAFE Campuses produce very few completed apprenticeships especially in the Building Trades.

The cost for maintaining and running these Campuses must be enormous.

A high school system that combines both regular academic education and trade training would alleviate the need for the very costly and ineffective TAFF Campuses around the state.

What is being proposed would be far more cost effective and more successful in producing qualified Trades people.

The RTO and  GTO and  the whole set up around them is not in many cases either really working and is certainly in too many cases  is not committed to the training of apprentices but in fact could been seen as exploiting young apprentices.

The RTO and GTO rolls are not being applied and working as might have been intended.  The setup of this scheme was meant to train more apprentices. But in fact, except for a few, the RTO’s do not train apprentices in any significant numbers…

It is a scheme based on Hosting.

The GTO gathers young people under the banner of an Apprentice Trainer when in fact the GTO is just a company keeping the names of young people on a list from which they are allocated out to a subcontractor / trades person when there is the opportunity.

As a result of this, most apprentices will go through the hands of numerous subcontractors during their time of trying to complete their apprenticeship.

This by the way is the prime reason why so many apprentices drop out.

In this system there is very little checking or care taken to ensure the apprentices are not being roughly treated or bullied. Even though the government departments will say everything is in order

Each time an apprentice goes to a new / different subcontractor / trades person; it is on the young apprentice to adjust to the personality and work standards of their new boss. This is the same as changing your job, where each time there is stress and apprehension.

Normally, most of us would experience this only half a dozen times in our entire working life. Far too many young apprentices experience this more than that each year of their three year term.

This situation is seriously prevalent within some of the GTO’s; it is not uncommon for an apprentice to go out to a subcontractor for as short a period as a day or two.

There are cases where apprentices have been shunted around thirty (30) or more times and are still going as they have not yet completed their 3 year apprenticeship.

There is not and cannot be any real on the job Trade Training in this situation.

ALL THE TRAINING, LECTURING, INSTRUCTING, EXAMINING is carried out and done by the Metropolitan TAFE establishments.


Recent Additional Reasons for the Proposal

At the present and which has been the case for some decades now, the demand for Building Trade apprentices has come from the Building / Construction and Mining / Recourse industries.

However, now and into the future in addition to the increase in demand from the Building / Construction and Mining / Recourse industries there are two major sectors that are coming to fruition and which will need substantial workforces.


  • Australian Defence Industries (ADI)

The Defence Industries Programme has a whole new thrust across Australia and particularly in Western Australia where the State Government has created a Sub Department with the name Defence West which is within the Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation.

If the work flow from this initiative was to actually come to fruition as is the hope and endeavour of the Defence West group it will require many employees the majority of which would have to be trades people.

Where are all these trades people going to appear from, as we have little enough now, to keep up with the needs of the Building / Construction and Mining / Resource industries?

The Defence Industries envisaged are in the high tech. areas of skills and trades, but still these companies will need buildings, infrastructure and developments particularly in this state. So there is always a demand for the Building Trades.


  • Northern Australian Development Programme

For decades there has been talk of developing Northern Australia and to Western Australia that means our North West. Most development so far has not included WA so much and if anything the NT and Qld have advanced well in comparison.

However this whole thrust to Develop Northern Australia has started to move with the Ministerial Forum on Northern Development having its fourth meeting in Katherine in the Northern Territory on 12 December 2019.

The next Ministerial Forum on Northern Development will be hosted by the Western Australian Government in Broome in early 2020, to drive long term, sustainable economic development across northern and north Western Australia.


  • Covid 19 Recovery Programmes

In the past couple of months, the news has been shouting out, every day, another Federal Government initiative with a massive amount of money allocated and with the statement of producing an endless number of new jobs.

There have been so many announcements of this nature, that it will take a lot of time and effort just to track them all and set them out in a schedule showing the amount of money allocated and job numbers forecast.

For this schedule to be used as a tool to ascertain the real impact on the number of jobs forecast to be created, each initiative would need to be analysed to see what industries, trades, jobs, etc. each impacted.

This is realistically something that is almost impossible to achieve. What do Government Departments do in these situations; they just throw out a bunch numbers.

There is simply no way an accurate or realistic forecast of the effect all this funding will have in creating job opportunities…

Let’s just say that it will have an enormous effect and the opportunity for something in the order of half a million to a million (500,000 – 1,000,000) job places will need to be filled.

The putting of funding in place to create jobs, is in itself not a solution, when the pool of available (trained, skilled, apprenticeship complete tradies) workers is simply not there and the TAFE system we have to train such trades and skill does not have the capacity to generate such a number of trained and qualified workers.

So, let’s be serious here and realise that an Alternative and Additional means and/or system of Apprentice and Skills training is urgently needed…

The allocation of some of the massive funding amounts being announced should be directed to such propositions as the ACAS…

Clearly what is needed in WA is an alternative and additional capacity to the existing restricted TAFE Trade Training, especially for apprentices in the Building Trades.

Right now everybody from the Prime Minister down acknowledges that Australia let only Western Australia has a big shortage of tradespeople and we really need to do something about it.


Benefits of the Proposal

There are many reasons for and benefits of the creation of an Alternative High School System. Especially a teaching system that addresses the real issues and problems that is rife amongst our young kids, teenagers and young adults,

Also in conjunction with dealing with these social issues, all teaching and influence of character will be meticulously conducted in a dedicated manner to ensure each student develops a sound understanding and acceptance of being a good citizen, and just as importantly is actually directed down a pathway to full employment.

Some of the most significant reasons and benefits are as follows and which will be expanded on further as this brief evolves:


  • Address some of the perennial problems with so many of today’s teenagers and young adults, such as:

Helping to overcome the general lack of commitment, discipline, attitude, respect, work ethic, endurance per say, insight to see where a trade can take you in life, concentration (all have iPhone addiction)

Getting enrolments – lack of interest amongst the young to take on a trade

Retention of enrolled – dropout rate is extremely high and must change

Family and social insecurity situations including homelessness

Tendencies towards damaging drug and alcohol use


  • The existing TAFF structure and programmes of training Apprentices, especially the Building Trade Apprentices is not working as effectively and efficiently as is suggested by everybody involved within the Apprentice Training in this state.
  • WA has a huge need to increase the capacity to properly train and produce complete tradespeople, especially in the Building Trades, which is what this system of High Schooling can provide
  • Enhanced opportunity for students to follow on after this schooling experience, leading to young trades people having better and continuous employment and solid loving family orientated lives
  • Then there is the Defence Industries Programme, which has a whole Department with its own Minister. If this was to actually come to fruition as they all espouse. Then where are all these trades people going to appear from, as we have little enough now, to keep up with the needs of the Building / Construction and Mining / Resource industries.
  • The Defence Industries envisaged are in the high tech areas of skills and trades, but still these companies will need buildings and developments particularly in this state. So there is always a demand for the Building Trades.
  • Clearly what is needed in WA is an alternative and additional capacity to the existing restricted TAFE Trade Training, especially for apprentices in the Building Trades.


ADF Benefits

The ADF too is not immune to a lack of general public interest, especially by many of the young, in making a career in service to Australia.

So the military experience all students will gain through their years at an Army Cadet Apprentice School will hopefully be just as profound as that of their trade training.

Encouragement of interest in the ADF as another possible career avenue will be greatly enhanced.

Dual training in an academic/trade and a soldiering/discipline sense would hopefully engender in students a feeling of wanting to continue to belong and therefore should garner retainment and continuity of service as a result.


Army Recruiting Benefits

One area of Army recruitment that has always been targeted for many decades, without a great deal of success, is that of the Indigenous Soldier.

The present approaches to trying to gain Indigenous peoples interest and participation in the Army, appears not be as successful as was hoped.

There seems to be just too many bits and pieces advertised on the many websites.

It must be difficult for even a teenager or young adult with a reasonable level of education to wade through and comprehend the vast amount of websites and information.

It must be even more daunting to Indigenous teenagers and young adults who may have a limited education. In fact it would be almost impossible…

None of the “suck it and see” type initiatives and programs have realistic / adequate durations and therefor do not cover sufficient content / aspects of real Army life to be of much benefit in enticing and recruiting.

Also it appears there is a lack of overall co-ordination, control and management

Over / across all of these initiatives and programs. They generally appear to be ad-hoc, random and splintered all over the country.

More importantly the majority of these initiatives and programs are held / carried out in the Eastern States.

To garner interest and foster a desire to be part of any activity, subject or whatever, it is necessary to set in place a continuous means of encouragement, introduction of content and teaching / learning about the particular topic or activity.

The idea of a single day or week for people to experience “the life of a soldier” is not even close to what is needed to put someone on the path to want to join the Army.

This proposal for a school totally orientated around the Army in all aspects of its schooling, training and way of life is by far a better options for many, many reasons, not the least of which is that it has previously work.

The Army, Navy and RAAF all had Apprentice Schools, all of which were vital for each service and were highly successful. The calibre, intellect and training of a great percentage of these Apprentices were such that the rate of Commissioned Officers stemming therefrom was only overshadowed by graduates from Duntroon.


History of Apprentice Training

In previous times there were well organised sections of both Federal and State Governments that produced an abundance of well trained and reliable tradespeople across most industries. The Midland Workshops, Public Works Department (PWD), State Housing Department, Commonwealth Department of Housing and Construction in every state and so on, are a sample of such.

Then of course there were the great ADF recruit and apprentice training facilities / organisations, such as the Army Apprentices School (AAS), RAAF and NAVY Apprenticeship Schools and recruit training programmes, which were all highly successful.

The Army Apprentices School ran from 1948 to 1995. The school produced thousands of highly trained tradesmen, technicians, administrators, and professionals across all the disciplines of most industries and especially the Building, Electrical, Mechanical, Electronics and Communications industries. These highly trained Soldier Tradesmen served Australia well both in their service years and their following civilian life jobs.

None of the Army, Navy or Airforce Apprentices Schools were broken. They were all just part of a long period of ill-conceived economic rationalisation, by all sides of parliament .They were all highly successful over many decades, producing excellent well trained trades people and service personnel.

Graduates from the AAS were the backbone of the Royal Australian Engineers (RAE) and the Royal Australian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (RAEME) corps.

There was no better way to impart knowledge, skill and discipline and focus on the task / job at hand, than going through the AAS system.


Administration, Teaching and Training

The proposed ACAS is thought to have the following structure in regard to all processes within the Administration, Teaching and Training, to enable a well-managed and controlled establishment.

  • Academic Education– that is all subjects and curriculum to be as per any High School in WA. To be accomplished and administrated under the control of the WA Department of Education including the engagement and supervision of all Teachers.
  • Trade Training – that is all trades, subjects or units to be as per the TAFE apprenticeship training programmes and standards. But with a more constant approached because of the student’s availability.
  • Army Cadet Training – the basis, extent, organisation and control to be carried out by the WA AAC BDE. The basis being as per all Cadets throughout the state but with more time given to this aspect based on the students availability.
  • Living Quarters –the accommodation, ablutions, catering/dining, etc. to be as per the standards, regulations and rules of any normal Live in Boarding Schools and Colleges.
  • Board and Administration– the Board of Management and the Administration Staff to be selected and engaged under the WA Public Service System. The criteria for selection in any roll in this category are to be based on integrity and character as much as qualification for the position.


Establishing the Army Cadet Apprentice School or ACAS System

First Concept:

Initially the thought to create an alternative and additional way of Training Apprentices was to follow the Military Apprenticeship way of having a single large-scale establishment both in size and number of Apprentices in train.

That is the Army, Navy and Airforce in the past all had standalone Apprenticeship Schools which covered all know trades and areas akin to trades during those years.

The British Military still maintains this model with its Army Foundation College (AFC) which is located in Harrogate, North Yorkshire.

Minimum entry age to this British Army – Army Foundation College is 15 years 7 months. Chief of the British General Staff stands by the fact that “each year our junior entry is always 100% manned which is indicative of people finding that it is something that is really positive to do”

Clearly this model has worked and continues to work in Britain where the concept of skills and trade training in the Military environment was first initiated in 1850’s.


Second Concept:

To be on the same basis as for the First Concept, but on a reduced scale and to have several of the ACAS facilities around the state.

For example there could be ACAS’s in many of the following metropolitan and regional locations and also that each may have Apprenticeships more specifically concentrated on the Industry Rolls, Trades and Skills required for each area:

Albany,              Bunbury,          Mandurah,       Rockingham,       Midland,

Joondalup,    Bindoon,          Kalgoorlie,       Geraldton,        Carnarvon,

Karratha,       Port Hedland, Broome,           Kununurra,       Esperance


Third Concept:

A combination of both concepts one and two, in that there are three (3) full capacity ACAS type facilities (as for First Concept) and several others around the state in reduced scale (as for Second Concept).

This concept could enable all services to be involved, along the same lines as the original Apprentice Schools system that the Navy, Army and Airforce once had.



Perhaps the first step might be to establish an ACAS that acts as a “Prototype” to ensure all aspects of organising and running such a facility are addressed and set in place both physically and in documented rules and regulation. That is specifically in the actual operating of such an education system / facility and not in any way impinging on or altering the rule of law.

This initial ACAS could be the selection of an existing High School that is prepared to take this opportunity to create something more than just a High School.

A registration of interest could be circulated to all High School Principals and School Boards to invite their participation in the establishment of this alternative method of High Schooling.


Scope of Instruction

Regardless of the path by which the fulfilment of the proposal to establish an ACAS system takes, it is imperative that the basic principles, methods and teaching follow that which was the backbone of the Army Apprentice School (including the Navy and Airforce Apprentice Schools). Why, because it worked / works.

The following is an extract from an Army Journal back in 1970, which makes it simple and clear to see the principals, methods and teaching :——


The Aim

The aim of the Army Apprentices School is to train boys to become soldier-tradesmen for service in the Regular Army. The mental and moral qualities are fostered, which are essential in a good soldier and citizen. And which provide fitness for higher rank. Towards realizing the aim, the curriculum is designed to provide educational. Military. Physical and technical training. All this to fit apprentices for service as highly skilled soldier-tradesmen.


Scope of Instruction

The Army Apprentices School curriculum is designed to provide highly skilled soldier-tradesmen for the Army in the trades of: fitters and turners, vehicle mechanics, carpenters and joiners, plumbers and pipefitters, bricklayers, electrical mechanics, electrical fitters, radio mechanics and other trades as may be determined by AHQ. Subsequently, on graduation, soldier-tradesmen have the opportunity to further their technical training. Some become armourers and artificers; others specialize in electronics and radio mechanical spheres.


Trade Training

The trade training is given to apprentices by an integrated military and civilian instructional staff organised into wings. These wings are concerned with metal trades, building trades, electrical trades, motor vehicle training and drawing instruction. The school is fully equipped with the necessary workshops and classrooms to facilitate such instruction. Instruction is co-ordinated by a military Supervisor of Technical Training in conformity with the policies of the Victorian Apprenticeship Commission and the Victorian Education Department. Successful apprentices qualify as soldier-tradesmen after their four years of training. They spend a final period under Apprentice Masters in units of the Royal Australian Engineers. Royal Australian Corps of Signals, and the Royal Corps of Australian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers. The qualifications thus gained by the soldier-tradesmen are recognized by the apprentice commissions in all Australian states.


Educational Training

The General Education Wing of the school is staffed by officers of the Royal Australian Army Educational Corps. The wing has the task of preparing apprentices for qualifications up to Leaving Technical Certificate standard. Trade mathematics, trade science and Army First Class Certificate subjects in mathematics and English are taught to all apprentices. Such instruction is mandatory for the successful completion of trade training. Apprentices who have the necessary qualifications and incentives are given instruction to matriculation level.


Physical Training

Physical training instruction under a qualified physical training officer and his staff is provided for as part of the weekly syllabus. Apprentices are also given instruction and guidance in all aspects of various sporting activities.


Character Training

Chaplains for every denominational group are attached to the school and conduct a tutorial programme of instruction on a weekly basis as part of the training syllabus.


The Battalion of Apprentices

The overall command of the school is exercised by a lieutenant colonel. In order to give apprentices the best control and guidance, apprentices are grouped into four Apprentice Companies, which make up the Battalion of Apprentices, commanded by a major, the Supervisor of Military Training. All apprentices who are in their first year of training are grouped in a company. This enables the military staff to devote their particular attention to the newcomer who requires considerable guidance and man-management during his settling-in period. The remaining companies consist of apprentices in the later years of training. Instructional staffs of one CSM per company and one sergeant and one corporal per platoon has been allotted. These staffs are organized into military training wings. Specializing in drill, weapon training and field training. Great care is taken to select only the most suitable NCOs for posting to the school, as apprentices -owing to their age -require a special type of treatment. The school thus has to assume heavy responsibilities for apprentices beyond those normally encountered in military units, where members are adults.


The Training Cycle

The training cycle over the three years the apprentices spend at the school is organized in such a manner as to have a balanced distribution of all subjects each week on the following basis:


Trade Training                     23%              of total periods

General Trade Practices       27%                       ditto

Education                              25%                      ditto

Military Training                  11%                       ditto

Sport                                       6%.                       ditto

Physical Training                  4%                       ditto

Religion                                   2%                       ditto

Administration                      2%                       ditto




The school offers the apprentice a diversity of recreational facilities. These include sailing, fishing, chess, hobbies, cinema screenings, a well-stocked library, dancing classes, bush-walking, and radio clubs. Weight-lifting, and apprentices’ club and canteen facilities.



The apprentices are subject to the same military code of discipline as the rest of the Army.



Sport plays a most important part in the apprentice’s life. Apprentices participate in all winter and summer sports. They are predominant throughout Melbourne and Victoria in the leagues of which they are an integral part. The annual inter-service sports contests against RAN and RAAF apprentices are bitterly contested events. The esprifde-corps of the battalion is displayed with verve and spirit on such occasions.



The Apprentice Battalion features prominently on many ceremonial occasions in Victoria throughout the year. The citizens of Mornington have taken the boys to their hearts and consider them as an integral part of their community. Consequently, in August 1969 the Apprentice Battalion was granted the Freedom of the Town of Mornington. This was celebrated with apprentices conducting the parade without any ARA staff participation. In fact it has become the accepted form to conduct ceremonial parades exclusively under the command of the Apprentice Battalion Sergeant-Major. The Apprentice Battalion’s Regimental March consists of a melody of ‘Advance Australia Fair’, ‘The US SOLDIER-TRADESMEN 9 Marine Corps Hymn’ and ’Waltzing Matilda’.



The foresight shown before 1948 when it was decided to train soldier-tradesmen yielded great dividends in skilled manpower and leadership material for the Army. The Army Apprentices School is now well established with a proud tradition of over twenty-one years’ service. It has attained the potential for further expansion to satisfy the increasing needs of our growing modern Army in the provision of soldier-tradesmen.

The young men who have graduated as soldier-tradesmen have established themselves as competent and indispensable. They are not only a valuable asset to the Army as specialists; they are capable soldiers and leaders who contribute generously to the efficiency of our modern Army.


Students, Ages, and School Years 

Recruitment of suitable students for these schools could be on a quota basis so as to encourage and give opportunity to all kids in all the areas of society.

These types of schools could perhaps be the turning point and the start of a sound future for some disadvantaged peoples as well as high standard students.

The re-establishment of the AAS (in WA) or something akin to it, such as this proposed ACAS military style High School system covering school years 10, 11 and 12 can only be a positive move to help society be more disciplined and committed.

Age of students would cover 15 to 18 years. Also it would be considered that entry year may not align with age as this would then give some students who may be a little behind academically an opportunity to be included in the student draft…

Every aspect would be as per a normal High School, but with an emphasis on Army Cadet style dress and discipline and technical / trade oriented subjects.

This would go some way in helping to reversing our declining flow of Apprentices / Tradespeople.


Support and Exposure

Now the first response from many will be, “this sort of proposition is more designed to be looked at by the Federal Government”.

Well that is reasonable, but someone has to run with an idea for it to get some exposure, traction and discussion on or around the matter.

If this proposal, that in our view can only better the result of producing and retaining Apprentices in WA, were to be championed by the State Government and the General Public then surely the Federal Government would have to be interested.

The Prime Minister Scott Morrison, very early in his term stated that Australia was in dire need of Apprenticeship Training right across the country.

Who knows such a system of schooling and trade training was to be implemented it may perhaps become a catalyst for the ADF to do something in WA, to increase the ADF Foot Print, particularly in our North West.


Conclusion and Request

This paper is written with the aim of gaining your interest enough to spend a little time to read and consider what is believed to be a very sound idea, that if implemented would be a huge benefit to Western Australia and indeed Australia.

This proposal is presented on behalf of a group of Ex-service persons, many of whom came through the Army Apprentices School system during the 50’s to the 90’s,



On behalf of all the interested parties involved with this ACAS proposal, thank you so much for your time in reading this paper and trust you will give it merit and consider promoting it amongst your friends, colleagues, associates, the public in general and any politician that you might have access to or the ear off.


Yours faithfully,
Richard Peter Billington
Treasurer RAEA of WA Inc
WA 6024

Mobile: 0419.700.405

Royal Australian Engineers Association of WA (RAEA of WA)
Royal Australian Mechanical and Electrical Engineers Association
Members of the Royal United Services Institute of WA
WA members of the Australian Army Apprentices School Association
Members of the Royal Australian Signal Association (WA Branch)
Members of Armoured Corps Association of WA
Retired former Program Manager Building Studies Leederville Technical College
Members of Legacy WA
Members of RSL in WA










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One thought on “Army Cadet Apprentice System – A PAPER

  • 01/06/2023 at 4:40 pm

    What the hell is a roll? Not to mention the complete word for word plagiarism from a 1960s issue of the Australian Army Magazine. So dishonesty and inability to communicate in simple English words is what you promote in WA……


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