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Apprenticeship numbers continue to fall, system in crisis

14 December, 2017

A further 4.7% decline in apprenticeship numbers confirms the system is in crisis, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry said recently.

Figures from the National Centre for Vocational Education and Research show the number of apprentices at June 30 this year, 282,000, was 4.7% less than the same time last year.

This is down from 465,000 apprentices five years ago.

"The numbers are continuing to fall, unchecked by any recent action. This is concerning, particularly for young people seeking that all-important first job. The system is in crisis," said Jenny Lambert, Director of Employment, Education and Training, Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

"The $1.5 billion Skilling Australians Fund, announced in the 2017 federal budget, was directly targeted at addressing this crisis. However seven months after the fund was announced, the government is yet to sign even one agreement with a state or territory government to commence the projects that are desperately needed to boost apprenticeship numbers.

"Our recent SWOT analysis showed the system needed urgent attention. We urge all governments to sign the agreements as a matter of urgency.  We need to start fixing these problems and take action that addresses industry needs.

"A national campaign to promote apprenticeships is also desperately needed.

"Although the biggest falls have been in trainees, it is concerning that the declines are becoming more substantial in trade apprenticeships. Action is needed now before job seekers and employers become so disconnected from the system that we can’t get them back."

Other key figures from the NCVER release, include:

  • Apprenticeship commencements down 2.9% to 164,000 for the year to June 2017, with a larger decline of 5.3% for the June quarter compared to the previous year.  Since 2012 there has been a staggering 56% decline in annual apprenticeship commencements.
  • Commencements for Technicians and Trades Workers have dropped an alarming 42% over five years since the June quarter 2012, from 26,200 to 15,200
  • Commencements for Clerical and Administrative Workers took a harder hit with a drop of 82% from 2012 to 2017, from 24,700 to 4,400.

Full figures from the NCVER found here.

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Rob Watson | Thursday, December 14, 2017, 4:39 AM
Apprenticeships are being discouraged because of the fraudulent practices that circulate from mouth to mouth and on blog sites around the net. Employers are using UNPAID apprenticeships as a way to supplement their work force and then terminate the apprentices when the temporary period is over. Until there is some serious legislation on the payment of apprentices, the numbers will continue to decline because of the actions of a few unscrupulous business mgrs. (I got my info from recent graduates at RMIT. Some of the stories I've heard first-hand are awful to do that to graduates... tainting their image of a working for gainful employment.)
Chris de Lange | Thursday, December 14, 2017, 5:40 AM
This crisis is being perpetuated by employees/resourcers who don't or wont recognise the fact that Advanced Diplomas and Diplomas coupled to a trade can carry as much weight as degrees in some management positions. People that have Advanced Diplomas/Diplomas with a trade are overlooked and thought of as less qualified than someone with a degree, when positions are advertised or when team members are being promoted. The person with the Advanced Diploma will more often than not have more practical skills than his colleagues with degrees. People with Advanced Diplomas with trade backgrounds are recognised as Associates within the Institution of Engineers Australia, this is however is not deemed good enough by employers. So the "stigma" continues .... you need a degree to get a good job /management job and earn top dollars, no other form of education will get you there, least of all a trade! I have gone far with a trade and only reached the top by starting my own business!
Anonymous | Thursday, December 14, 2017, 8:52 AM
Governing bodies need to take stock and take responsibility into this most important area. Transitioning from education to the workplace is highly underrated. Streamlining and creating opportunities to instill self worth and purpose can not be denied! Cannot press these values hard enough, it is our future.