Building Music Industry Skills: Australian Music Internship Program – A Proposal

| July 30, 2015

By Scott Adam, Principal lecturer events and hospitality, Lecturer music business, Central Institute of Technology, Perth


Australia’s music industry actively develops the skills and capabilities of future music professionals. Respected industry based programs such as the Australian Music Industry Network’s Control and Release manager and label development programs, and The Seed Fund provide skills and pathways for emerging professionals. These are complemented by numerous vocational and further education programs offering quality music education and training to students.

An Opportunity

Discussion amongst music professionals has identified a need – and opportunity – for a structured industry internship program. The objective would be to provide a new national platform for skilling up industry professionals, with a clear framework where industry provides work based learning and experience, and the training sector delivers appropriate formal learning and expertise. This could offer the next stage of development to complement and build on existing programs, and importantly, to strengthen partnerships between the music and training sectors.

The Proposal

This proposal is for a mutually beneficial Australian Music Internship Program, which would productively integrate the training sector with the music industry through the platform of structured internships.  It is a national model for a new-generation internship program that would be both industry based and lead to accredited skills outcomes. It could fill an existing gap by providing combined on-the-job training and vocational learning, meeting appropriate legislative requirements, and operating nationally. It could also provide a critical next step to building the skills of new industry professionals by harnessing the capabilities of industry leaders and the training sector through an agreed national framework.

How would it work?

It would provide structured training within the workplace under a scheduled paid, volunteer, or work experience agreement. The training is on-the-job, monitored, measured and assessed. The participant is the ‘intern’ and the workplace the ‘host employer’ or ‘organisation’. It would differ from volunteer and work experience environments, which generally have a shorter timeframe and are less driven by specific learning objectives.

It would seek to address common misunderstandings about interns that they represent exploitative free labour, are time consuming, and are only relevant to medium or large businesses. This stems in part from mislabelling of unmonitored long-term volunteer positions as internships. In reality, internships such as this proposal meet all requirements of the Fair Work Act, have the potential to benefit the employer as much as the student, and can be as flexible as the business itself.

What would be required?

Two parties would be involved: the intern and the host employer. If the internship is to be embedded in a qualification, which is proposed, a registered training organisation will establish the training parameters and assess the intern.

To be effective, the host employer requires internships that do not create a distraction from the usual activities of the business. This can be achieved by ensuring that interns have specific training that meets the needs of the employer. This would be delivered with blocks of sector-specific skills and knowledge provided to prospective interns well in advance.

What will it do?

The proposed program will structure internships that:

  • Match interns and potential host employers through job mapping
  • Create pre-internship preparation programs deliverable by Registered Training Organisations
  • Meet the requirements of the Fair Work Act and provide flexibility for micro businesses and sole traders
  • Provide guidelines to support employers and students before, during and after their internships; and
  • Document the program so that it can be duplicated in multiple contexts.

The Benefits

The intention is to develop a national program that will benefit industry and students by productively integrating the training sector with the music industry. It will be designed to meet the specific needs articulated by industry, and to deliver suitable training to emerging professionals through an internship model. It would harness the considerable generosity and goodwill of music industry experts and provide them with resources and a mechanism to share their knowledge with the next generation of professionals. It would do this by accessing training funding and expertise for delivery.

Next Steps

This proposal will be offered to the music industry for comment and input, and if potential interest is identified, it would then be scoped out in detail. This would formalise how it could operate, become eligible for training funding, and identify potential delivery partners and timeframes. Music Australia is advancing this proposal in its early stage development, and would expect to work with or hand it over to appropriate expert partners in the next stages of development.


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