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Response needed for 'dramatic drop' in apprenticeships

16 August, 2013

All political parties need to respond, as a matter of urgency, to the dramatic drop in apprenticeship commencements, the Australian Centre of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) has said in a statement.

At a recent meeting at the ACCI headquarters, employer organisations, peak provider groups and Industry Skills Councils strongly stated their commitment to apprenticeships in the context of increasing concerns about productivity, global competitiveness, and rising unemployment particularly youth unemployment.

A series of ad hoc changes to policy, training funding and financial incentives which have cut support of apprenticeships at the federal and state level have had a dramatic and destabilising impact on apprenticeship commencements, which are now at their lowest level since 1999, according to the ACCI.

Government support for apprenticeships is narrowing such that major growth areas of the economy, including the service sector industries of retail, transport, finance and hospitality are bearing the brunt of the changes, but with all occupations in apprenticeships detrimentally affected.

Employers are losing confidence in the apprenticeship system, not because of a lack of commitment to a long-standing model of training delivered in a work context, but because they cannot rely on consistency in the approach by both federal and state governments.

The ACCI has called on all sides of federal politics to recognise the importance of apprenticeships to the economy and confirm their commitment to implementing industry-driven training outcomes, and specifically to engage with industry post-election on a holistic review of the apprenticeship system with an immediate imperative to get commencements growing again.

The recent meeting included ACCI and its member employer groups, together with the Australian Council for Private Education and Training, TAFE Directors Australia, National Association of Apprenticeship Centres and Industry Skills Councils including Innovation and Business Skills Australia, Transport & Logistics ISCs and Energy Skills Australia.

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Rob | Wednesday, August 21, 2013, 10:03 AM
Here are a few simple reasons; 1. CEO's are now employed by boards to get results within a very short time period, so there is little medium-term planning (5 years) let alone longer therm planning regarding labour. 2. Buying skilled labour via 457 visas is seen as a 'quick fix' by employers and supported by the Federal Governments 3. State and Federal departments can't agree on the funding (or lack thereof) and support of training providers and employers. The result is little incentive for the SME to employ apprentices.
Gordon | Wednesday, August 21, 2013, 11:13 AM
I have a great history training apprentices but no longer 1 REASON 3 year apprenticeship's why pay the union construction rates to a unskilled kids Who decided this? another labour government quick fix to a shortage Back to 4 or no more
Chuck Solide | Wednesday, August 21, 2013, 11:33 AM
There are many reasons why apprenticeships are dwindling. Unfortunately, the 2 most salient reasons are firstly the high cost of taking on an apprentice. Wage rates not "commensurate with ability" and the failure of the education system to prepare students for a career which involves "Arithmetic", communication skills and Logical thinking, is a major disincentive. Secondly and frighteningly, given the slow creeping death of manufacturing in this country, there are no guarantees that the employers will actually have a business in 3 or 4 years time.
max | Friday, August 23, 2013, 10:02 AM
Spot on Bob I live in Adelaide and run a small engineering business that employs apprentices. Down the road is a large engineering company (140 strong)that only employs 457 visa employees. This makes great business sense to have cheap ready to go labour from day one and is too lucrative for large companies to go back to employing and training our kids. We as never before are competing with manufacturing from cheaper countries and can not compete unless our labour costs were on par with theirs. This is fact. But to import cheap labour as well. Where is this once great nation heading, putting CEOs salary before our country and our kids .That is a future I want no part of