The crash of structured training continued unabated last financial year, new statistics show.
Australia had 268,600 apprentices and trainees at the end of June, 5 per cent less than at the same stage of 2016 and a whopping 48 per cent less than in 2012.
The figures, from the National Centre for Vocational Education Research, show that the number of current apprentices and trainees has fallen for 16 of 20 consecutive quarters.
This decline has been largely blamed on the removal of federal incentive payments for people who hire trainees. But the new figures show that trade apprenticeships were hit worse than traineeships during 2016-17.
The number of new trade apprentices fell 6 per cent, while the number that successfully completed crashed by 10 per cent. Among non-trade traineeships, the fall in completions was marginally less at 9 per cent while commencements slid by just 0.1 per cent.
In the June quarter, overall commencements fell 5 per cent. Completions rose an encouraging 3 per cent, but this was due to a 9 per cent surge in successfully finished traineeships. Completions by trade apprentices fell 4 per cent.