Apprentice Numbers Crash In Capital Cities And Western Suburbs

New figures released by the Department of Education and Training last week show that apprenticeship numbers have crashed by up to 50 per cent in capital cities and by almost a third in the western suburbs of Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane between December 2013 and December 2015 under the Abbott-Turnbull Government’s watch.

In western Sydney, apprentice numbers have plummeted by 10,642 (31.1 per cent); in western Melbourne, by 4,782 (35.9 per cent). 

Electorates in the western and southern suburbs of Brisbane such as Oxley and Moreton have seen numbers drop significantly as well. In Oxley, the number of apprentices fell by a massive 53.6 per cent from 3,203 in December 2013 to 1,486 in December 2015; and Moreton, 30 per cent with numbers falling from 3,350 to 2,345.

Apprentice numbers in capital city seats are also in crisis with numbers in Sydney falling from 5,773 to 2,905 – a drop of 2,868 (49.7 per cent); Brisbane dropping 2,282 apprentices (40.1 per cent); Melbourne numbers declining by 2,809 (37.7 per cent); and Adelaide losing 3,187 (51.4 per cent) apprentices.

Across Australia apprentice numbers have fallen by 136,400. In September 2013 there were 415,000 apprentices in training. After just two years of the Liberals’ neglect, by December 2015 this had dropped to just 278,600 apprentices in training.

The Liberals have not announced one new policy to help address this crash in apprentice numbers.

The Liberals have cut over $1 billion to apprenticeship programs since coming to office including the abolition of the Tools for Your Trade Program, access and mentoring programs and Group Training support.  They have also cut incentive payments to adult apprentices.

The Liberals say they have established the Australian Apprenticeship Support Network – what they really did was rebadge Australian Apprenticeship Centres and cut their funding by $10 million per year while adding additional tasks such as job matching and mentoring.

The Liberals say they introduced Trade Support Loans – in reality only 40,000 loans have been taken up as apprentices are very reluctant to take up debt.

Only Labor is serious about investing in apprentices, skills and training.

Labor understands that to help drive economic growth and prosperity we need to invest in the education and skills of our people.   

It is vital that we train and retrain our workforce to deliver on the participation, productivity, innovation and growth efforts required for the nation.

In contrast, Labor has announced an extensive and comprehensive suite of policies to help apprentices, skills and training, including:

  • Creating new apprenticeship opportunities through setting a quota of apprentices on major federally-funded projects.
  • Reintroducing the Tools for Your Trade program at $3,000 per apprentice to support them from commencement to completion.
  • Restoring support for Group Training organisations.
  • Creating pathways into apprenticeships for 10,000 young people unemployed people through the Apprentice Ready program.
  • Piloting a National Skills Recognition Entitlement program with 5,000 places to help mature-aged, retrenched workers turn their extensive work experience into formal qualifications.
  • Connecting potential apprentices with jobs and training through an Apprenticeships Connect search portal.
  • Appointing a dedicated Apprentice Advocate.

Only a Shorten Labor Government will deliver the support for apprentices and TAFE that Australians expect and a vocational education system that delivers a skilled workforce for the future.