APPRENTICE NUMBERS HAVE FALLEN BY 148,000 UNDER THE LIBERALS AND THE GOVERNMENT HAS NO IDEA HOW TO HALT THE DECLINE

3 Aug 2017

Latest yearly figures from the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) show once again that apprentice numbers have fallen on the Turnbull Government’s watch.

APPRENTICE NUMBERS HAVE FALLEN BY 148,000 UNDER THE LIBERALS AND THE GOVERNMENT HAS NO IDEA HOW TO HALT THE DECLINE

 

Latest yearly figures from the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) show once again that apprentice numbers have fallen on the Turnbull Government’s watch.

 

The continued decline has major implications for the economy, productivity, and skill development. The government’s only proposed response is for an training fund perversely dependent on fees paid by skilled migrants for visas.

 

There are now only 265,000 apprentices in training, compared to 413,400 in September 2013.

 

  • There was a 4.5 per cent decline in the number of apprentices and trainees in-training at 31 December 2016 compared to 31 December 2015.

 

  • Overall commencements have continued the downward spiral since the government came into office, with a further decrease of 2.6 percent.

 

  • Trade commencements are down 12.4 percent as at December 2016 compared with the previous year.

 

  • Apprentice completions decreased by 16.1 percent. Trade completions decreased by 13.6 percent and non-trade completions decreased by 18.0 percent.

 

  • The training rate for trades apprentices and trainees has fallen below 10 percent to 9.9, for the first time in over a decade, meaning that fewer than 10 percent of tradies are now apprentices.

 

  • The training rate – the percentage of workers employed as an apprentice or trainee is down again, from 2.3 to 2.2 percent.

 

In response to falling apprentice numbers, the government said in the Budget that it would increase apprenticeships by 300,000. Questions of the government revealed that the number was ‘indicative’ only, or ‘up to 300,000’ apprentices. The 300,000 ‘indicative target’ is simply wishful thinking, as noted by independent commentators.

 

The Coalition’s plan relies entirely on insecure funding that depends on fees from foreign workers. If the demand for temporary work visas goes down the Turnbull government will reduce funding for apprenticeships.

 

It is time for Assistant Minister for Vocational Education and Skills Karen Andrews to admit her portfolio is a mess and stop claiming that the government can deliver anything like 300,000 apprenticeships with the proposed funding model.

 

There has been no movement on securing training agreements with the states. Three months after the Budget and a month after the cessation of the National Partnership Agreement on Skills Reform, the government still has no funding agreement in place.

 

Since coming to government the Liberals and Nationals have cut $2.5 billion in apprenticeship support and funding for TAFE. The 2017 Budget cut a further $600 million from apprenticeship support.

 

Labor will return the $600 million to the skills budget and ensure stable funding for TAFEs and apprenticeships, working directly with employers and unions to create skilled jobs in local communities. Labor will invest $100 million to rebuild TAFE, and ensure that one in 10 jobs on major projects is filled by an apprentice.

 

The Abbott/Turnbull Government has wasted four years with cuts and neglect of skills and apprentices. Their empty promises offer no hope of arresting the dramatic decline in apprentice and trainee numbers that their cuts have caused.

 

THURSDAY, 3 AUGUST 2017