Drop in apprenticeship numbers necessitates action: Ai Group

With Australian apprenticeship and traineeship numbers falling to a ten year low of 259,385 in 2018, chief executive of Australian Industry Group (Ai Group), Innes Willox, wrote to federal and state governments ahead of their meeting in Cairns on August 9.

With global economic uncertainty and digitalisation driving the transformation of industry, Willox argued that the current vocational education and training (VET) system is not equipped to deliver students with the skills needed.

“It is our view that the VET system is in a less than optimal state to deliver on this national imperative,” wrote Willox.

Willox noted that the VET sector has been hampered by the FEE-HELP scandal, inconsistency across different states, reductions in funding, and asynchronous qualification arrangements. In sum, Willox noted that “confidence needs to be restored to the VET system”.

Representing employers, the Ai Group cited research that the organisation had done in 2018 which showed that 75 per cent of employers found it difficult to recruit suitably qualified or skilled people. Most in demand were technicians and trades workers, as well as professionals in all STEM fields.

In responding to the issues outlined in Willox’s letter, the COAG meeting released a communique, “Vision for Vocational Education and Training”.

Noting that “VET and higher education are equal and integral parts of a joined up and accessible post-secondary education system” the vision set out broad priorities for the governments to improve the sector.

The states, territories and federal governments joined together to note that, “all jurisdictions acknowledge the importance of a viable and robust system of both public and private providers, and the particular role of states and territories in facilitating the public provision of VET”.

To address the challenges, Willox argued for the establishment of employer incentives, consistent qualifications between states, and input from industry. While the COAG communique did not explicitly endorse these measures, the statement from the heads of government noted that the sector should be “responsive to the needs of private industry and the public sector, ensuring employers have ready access to a highly skilled and adaptable workforce, while acknowledging industry has shared responsibility for growing a skilled economy”.


Revealed: Australian industries that will see highest job growth in next five years

skilled migrants

Which industries will create the most jobs in the coming five years? Take a look at the industries predicted to create most jobs in Australia according to the Department of Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business

According to the Australian Jobs report, Department of Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business’s annual publication about the Australian labour market there has been a significant shift away from medium-skill jobs towards higher-skill jobs in last two decades and a decline in lower-skill jobs.

The report states having the ‘ability to gain new skills and apply existing skills to new contexts will be critical to success in the changing labour market’.

A recent survey by the World Economic Forum found employers thought that, by 2022, more than half of all current employees would require significant reskilling or upskilling.

“Interestingly, the majority of employment growth over the past five years has been in occupations that generally require post-school qualifications.

“This is a long-term trend that is expected to continue, with the vast majority of jobs growth over the next five years projected to be in higher-skilled occupations,” Labour market analyst Ivan Neville said.

With the job market continuously evolving, here’s a look at the industries that will create maximum new jobs or see large falls in employment in Australia in the next five years.

Industries that will see maximum job creation:

According to the Department of Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business, most new jobs will be created in four specific industries – Health Care and Social Assistance, Construction, Education and Training and Professional, Scientific and Technical Services.

Health Care and Social Assistance industry is projected to have the strongest employment growth of any industry over the five years to May 2023,’ says the Australian Jobs report.

The top employing occupations in this industry are registered nurses, aged and disabled carers, child carers, nursing support and personal care workers and receptionists.

Construction industry which employs carpenters and joiners, electricians, construction managers, plumbers, is projected to have above-average employment growth over the five years to May 2023.

Education and Training employment is projected to increase strongly over the five years to May 2023, influenced by growth in the school-aged population, continued strength in international education and the growing demand for adult and community education.

There will be a great demand for primary and secondary school teachers, education aides, University lecturers and tutors.

The demand for highly educated workers like accountants, software and applications programmers, solicitors, graphic and web designers who come in the Professional, Scientific and Technical Services industry category is too projected to increase strongly over the five years to 2023.

Industries with job growth

The Department of Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business

Industries that will see a big decline in jobs:

Machinery and Equipment Wholesaling, Printing, Agriculture, Polymer Product and Rubber Product Manufacturing and Non-Metallic Mineral Product Manufacturing will see a big decline in employment prospects.

Employment is projected to fall in Wholesale Trade (down by 9,700, or 2.7%) and Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing (1,400, or 0.4%).

The 10 industry subdivisions that are projected to record the largest falls in employment include some in Wholesale Trade and Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing but, notably, employment in a number of manufacturing subsectors is also projected to fall.

industries with job decline

The Department of Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business

‘Not just technical skills but need to be a whole package’

Melbourne-based career coach, Naishadh Gadani says the latest data is in sync with the trends seen now.

“It is mostly driven by population growth and the growing number of seniors in our country. Health Care and Social Assistance is creating a lot of jobs right now and will continue to grow in the next five years. With a booming population, we need more hospitals and medical staff and with an increased focus on aged-care and the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), there is a big demand for aged-care workers and disability carers,” Mr Gadani told SBS Hindi.

Mr Gadani says the demand for school teachers and university lecturers too will continue in the next five years due to the population boom in big cities.

“Population growth means we need more schools and therefore this report rightly points out that primary and secondary school teachers, as well as university lecturers, will be in great demand in the next five years.

But it is not just technical skills that will land you the role, says labour market analyst Ivan Neville.

Mr Neville noted that the jobs market is highly competitive and employers are not just looking for people with technical skills but for people who have the ‘whole package’.

“In addition to education and experience, employers increasingly value staff who have employability skills — which includes personal and people skills, a good work ethic and the ability to work in a team.”

(This is part one of our report on Australian Job Market Outlook)

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If you have a low ATAR, you could earn more doing a VET course than a uni degree – if you’re a ma

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in recent days that “TAFE is as good as university”, and in many cases leads to better pay.

TAFE plays a vital role, but for most university students, a TAFE course is not going to increase their income. University graduates usually have higher rates of pay and employment than non-graduates.

But a new report from the Grattan Institute – Risks and rewards: when is vocational education a good alternative to higher education? – looked at the employment outcomes for students leaving school with a lower Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) (their main entry criteria into most undergraduate university programs).

It found men with a lower ATAR have options among vocational educational and training (VET) courses that can get them a job faster, and often higher earnings, than if they do a university degree. But these VET options are less attractive for women. And women who choose them often have poor outcomes, such as being denied a job in a male dominated industry like engineering.

ATAR is not everything. It does not perfectly predict university results or outcomes after university. But compared to graduates with a high ATAR, graduates with a lower ATAR have, on average, worse academic results, lower rates of high-skill employment and less earnings.

The Grattan Institute report looked at VET courses offered as a potential alternative to university. Especially once the income effects of lower ATAR are taken into account, the report found some bachelor degrees led to lower earnings than some VET diplomas and Certificate III/IVcourses.

How ATAR can affect employment outcomes

Over the last decade, more school leavers have been starting university with an ATAR below 70. Before an enrolment boom that began in 2009, about 20,000 school leavers with ATARs between 30 and 70 started university each year. In more recent years, the reported number is around 34,000.

But the true figure is higher, as universities don’t always record an ATAR when it is not used to admit the student.

Read more: More students are going to university than before, but those at risk of dropping out need more help

Employment outcomes usually improve over time, but slow career starts can have long-term consequences. The Grattan Institute report used data from the Longitudinal Surveys of Australian Youth (LSAY), which tracks young graduates up to age 25.

Graduates with a lower ATAR are more likely than those with a higher ATAR to fail subjects during their degree. But fail rates differ between courses. In education and nursing, for instance, graduates with ATARs below 60 failed 5% of all the subjects they took. This was half the fail rate of disciplines such as science, engineering, IT and commerce.

With fails on their academic transcripts, graduates with a lower ATAR have more trouble finding full-time work within four months of finishing their studies, and the jobs they find are less likely to use their skills.

But when it comes to employment options, the course matters more than the ATAR. In the months after graduation, humanities, science and commerce graduates with higher ATARs struggle more than nursing or education graduates with lower ATARs to find a job.

ATAR and annual income are connected within each university course. For example, male science graduates with ATARs of 90 earn about 13% more than graduates with ATARs of 60.

Men’s VET options could make them better off

To be considered a potential better choice, a course must plausibly interest the student and have better employment outcomes. There is no point telling a potential performing arts student an accounting diploma would improve their job prospects.

Few people are interested in both these courses. University applications, which often include preferences for multiple courses, reveal what other fields students are interested in.

One in five of all men whose first preference university course was science had a lower preference for engineering. Science is a high-risk university course, as rapid enrolment growth has led to graduates significantly outnumbering jobs.

Young people with lower ATARs considering science would receive a university offer, but could potentially earn more enrolling in a VET diploma (as shown in the chart below).

Similarly, about one in five men whose first preference is arts (another high-risk field) have a lower preference for commerce.

For men, with a lower ATAR, a commerce-related VET diploma would give them better employment prospects than an arts degree. These and other possible alternatives can be seen in the chart. Often a diploma is acquired after first completing a Certificate III/IV course.

Read more: We need to change negative views of the jobs VET serves to make it a good post-school option

Women should stick with uni

Women make up the majority of students who enrol into university with a lower ATAR. For them, a commerce diploma can sometimes be a good alternative to university, too. But otherwise women’s realistic choices differ from men’s – for both positive and negative reasons – in ways that make VET less attractive.

A positive reason is that two popular courses for women with lower ATARs – education and nursing – have good outcomes. Rates of professional employment for graduates of both courses are high across the ATAR range.

Nurses and teachers with higher ATARs who went to university tend to earn more than those with lower ATARs but the differences aren’t large enough to not recommend a bachelor degree over a VET course (as the chart shows).

A negative reason why vocational education is less attractive for women is that they show little interest in engineering-related fields that are popular for men. Once qualified, these men often work in construction, manufacturing, electrical and maintenance related fields.

But even when women have the relevant qualifications they often work in other occupations that pay less but offer more flexible working conditions.

VET fields popular with women, such as child care, nursing, aged care and hospitality have a large number of job vacancies, but don’t pay as well as most graduate occupations.

Vocational education does get overlooked in careers advice. But VET is less attractive for women than for men, if pay is a significant factor in course choice. Women have been a majority of university students since 1987. Given the nature of the labour market, it is not hard to see why.


Queensland facing potential skills shortages in 139 different areas

Queensland could soon be struggling for workers in dozens of skills areas from plumbing to robotics unless changes are made to vocational education, the state’s Premier says.

Annastacia Palaszczuk on Friday identified 139 potential future skills shortages in traditional, but rapidly changing professions.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk speaks to the media alongside Tourism Minister Kate Jones about the need to revamp Australia's future skills training system.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk speaks to the media alongside Tourism Minister Kate Jones about the need to revamp Australia’s future skills training system.CREDIT:AAP

Electrical works, plumbing, engineering, healthcare, hospitality, early childhood, digital technologies, robotics and utilities all fit the bill.

Skills and training were among a number of issues Australia’s premiers, chief ministers and the prime minister tackled on Friday at the Council of Australian Governments meeting in Cairns.

Ms Palaszczuk’s comments came before the meeting and the council later produced a vision statement for a revamp of Australia’s vocational education training sector.

Ms Palaszczuk said future skills shortages were the reason the Queensland government launched a “free” apprenticeships scheme on August 5, which will cost taxpayers $32 million.

That policy will encourage 60,000 Queenslanders under 21 to take up an apprenticeship.

“They will be in skills areas where we have recognised where we will have skills shortages in the decades to come,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

“Queensland has already done the work and identified 139 skills where there could be shortages into the future.”

After the meeting Ms Palaszczuk said the $32 million funding would pay for the training component for apprentices to make taking on an apprentice more cost-effective for businesses.

“I think we need to make it easier for young people to get a loan if they choose to go into vocational education and training,” she said, adding that traineeship fees needed to be simplified.

At its peak in 2014, total government expenditure in the training sector was more than $9 billion a year but by 2018 this had fallen to well below $7 billion.
At its peak in 2014, total government expenditure in the training sector was more than $9 billion a year but by 2018 this had fallen to well below $7 billion.CREDIT:STEVEN SIEWERT

“There has a been a lot of focus in the past on university education but I think there needs to be an equal focus on vocational education because there is going to be a skills shortage and we need to get young people into these employment opportunities now.”

Prime Minister Scott Morison said the “jobs of the future” weren’t just in technology, but increasingly in human services areas such as aged or disability care.

He said parents should be confident about their child’s future if they chose to pursue a trade or a skills-based education.

“It is not second prize,” he said.

The federal government funded a National Skills Commission in its April budget to better identify and plan for skills shortages and work with industry to design training courses, but it is yet to be established.

A new COAG Skills Council will present leaders with a reform road map for the sector in early 2020.

A detailed federal government study, Strengthening Skills, released earlier this agreed changes were needed to simplify student loans.

“The Commonwealth and the states and territories agree to develop a simpler, nationally consistent funding policy for all government-subsidised qualifications, which provides confidence and certainty to trainees, industry, employers and all funded providers, public or private,” the Joyce report says.

Ms Palaszczuk said work to restrict Australia’s waste export industry and control plastics and packaging was also commendable.


Australian Industry Group warns gov’t of national skills shortage

SYDNEY, Aug. 8 (Xinhua) — Australia’s peak industry body has urged the government to address the country’s “skills shortages” on Thursday, by reforming Vocational Education and Training (VET) Systems across the nation.

Writing a letter to Prime Minister Scott Morrison and the country’s State and Territory leaders ahead of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting in Cairns Friday, the Australian Industry Group’s chief executive Innes Willox warned that “75 percent of employers are experiencing difficulty in recruiting suitably qualified or skilled people into vacancies.”

“With the global economy now in choppy waters and Australia falling down the world’s performance tables, now, more than ever, governments need to work with industry to secure a long-term prosperous future for us all,” Willox said.

“The first step has to be a ground-up rebuild of our Vocational Education and Training (VET) System. This must be a national priority.”

“It is our view that the VET system is in a less than optimal state to meet the national imperatives of delivering the skill requirements for the labour market of the future.”

Calling for a complete overhaul, he added that Australia’s economy and community are currently facing a significant transformation period in the jobs sector triggered by digital disruption, structural adjustment and demographic shifts.

“This has contributed to a dynamic and accelerating requirement for skills and employment,” Willox said.

Among the industry jobs most frequently reported to be in shortage according to an Australian Industry Group report in 2018, were technicians, trade workers and professionals in all fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

“Employers listing occupations experiencing skills shortages for the first time also included those with skills in business automation, big data and artificial intelligence solutions,” Willox said.

Despite Australia’s increasing population, figures from the peak body suggest apprenticeships and traineeships have actually plummeted in recent years.

In 2012, there were 446,000 people undertaking these training programs, but as of last year that number had dropped to 259,385 – the lowest level for a decade.

But with an unprecedented pipeline of public investment being pumped into transport and social infrastructure projects around Australia, Willox said the increased demand for workers could see the skill shortage Down Under get even worse.

“This infrastructure work is necessary to stimulate our softening economy and lift domestic productivity and amenity but it also carries with it pressures on particular skills which are in high demand because they are the same skills required elsewhere in the economy – such as in the mining sector,” he explained.

“Such a large program of work increases pressures on capability and capacity in both the private and public sectors.”

In order to tackle the problem, The Australian Industry Group wants all levels of government to engage with the Education Department’s National Skills Commission and commit to a national “roadmap for reform.”

“A genuinely national training system that meets the needs of the economy may finally be possible,” Willox said.

“Commitment to a roadmap for reform should be a key outcome of the current COAG process.”


Skills, training must lift for challenges ahead

The economic challenges ahead will demand better skills, and that starts with apprenticeships.
The economic challenges ahead will demand better skills, and that starts with apprenticeships.

The national training system has an incredibly important job before it. Our economy and our communities are undergoing significant transformations, triggered by digital disruption, structural adjustment and demographic shifts.

This has contributed to a dynamic, shifting and accelerating requirement for skills and employment. However, skill requirements for the labour market of the future are not the same as those of today. It is our view that the VET (Vocational Education and Training) system is in a less-than-optimal state to deliver on this national imperative.

The Prime Minister and state and territory leaders can achieve this by using the upcoming COAG meeting to tackle reform for Australia’s training system.

The system has endured a number of problematic years. The VET FEE-HELP debacle inflicted reputational damage from which the system has not yet emerged. From an employer and an individual perspective, the system is further bedevilled by inconsistency in both its multiple funding regimes, declining levels of funding and varying qualification arrangements. Disappointing apprenticeship commencement and completion rates further add to the confusing situation.

Industry leadership has been eroded and the pivotal alignment of public expenditure to economic imperative has been diluted. Confidence needs to be restored to the VET system.

Recent research by Ai Group reveals the growing level of skill shortages. Our most recent Workforce Development Needs (2018) survey highlights 75 per cent of employers experiencing difficulty in recruiting suitably qualified or skilled people. The occupations most frequently reported in shortage were from the technicians and trades workers occupational group, followed by professionals, all in STEM fields. Employers listing skills shortages for the first time included those in business automation, big data and artificial intelligence solutions.

These findings need to be considered in the context of the emergence of complex “mega projects”. To be able to deliver on the pipeline, a more focused approach to skill development is required. The pipeline of public investment across transport and social infrastructure will place pressure on government and industry to respond and also creates the opportunity for a skills legacy. Such a large program of work increases pressures on capability and capacity in the private and public sectors. Accommodating a pipeline of this magnitude when skill shortages are already acute in some areas requires new thinking, processes and partnerships to deliver. Skills demand is further aggravated by a combination of renewed employment demand in the mining sector competing with high levels of infrastructure investment across the country.

This infrastructure work is necessary to stimulate our softening economy and lift domestic productivity but also carries pressures on skills in high demand because they are the same skills required elsewhere in the economy, such as in the mining sector. While the bulk of the infrastructure pipeline is city-based, the mining work is, of course, largely regional. This adds to the difficulties for regional-based operations that need to compete with the cities.

Demand for skilled workers is coming at a time when the impacts of our ageing society are intensifying. Our analysis of data related to the manufacturing sector shows that as of May 2019 there were 38,600 people aged 65-plus working in manufacturing (4.2 per cent of the workforce). This has doubled from 2.1 per cent in 2009. While the participation is positive, people in this age group are heading for retirement without the level of skilled workers to replace them. It is a similar story for the economy overall. As of June 2019, 610,676 people aged 65-plus are working (4.7 per cent of the workforce), up from 300,107 a decade earlier.

The state of apprenticeships and traineeships is illustrative. We have 259,385apprentices and trainees in training in 2018 compared with 387,100 a decade ago and a high of 446,000 in 2012. This is the lowest for a decade. This drop can be linked to a series of policy adjustments including removal or reduction of employer incentives. Apprenticeship systems, where they work well around the world, enjoy strong support from both government and employers. This acknowledges that the core principle of an apprenticeship is the employment relationship between employer and apprentice. Policy reforms of the apprenticeship system have let decision-making and funding drift to training providers and support services.

For us to return to the most effective development pathway we would need to restore employer incentives, and build strong, flexible and quality provision. The apprenticeship system should be defined as an employment-based learning pathway, as is the model internationally. Higher apprenticeships should become a flagship of this reform. This approach must be national.

The training system as a whole needs urgent attention. The establishment of the National Skills Commission provides a rare opportunity to develop fit-for-purpose partnership arrangements. These should drive national approaches to qualifications development, apprenticeship reform, labour market mobility and establishment of price that will enable improved and transparent funding mechanisms.

It is timely to consider bolder reforms to lift the quality of the training system while achieving a more effective spend of public funding. Engagement of the key industry and government stakeholders in the system will enable the right level of “buy-in” to drive outcomes. The National Skills Commission is an important first step for all parties to engage with. Commitment to a road map for reform should be a key outcome of the COAG process.

Innes Willox is the chief executive of AiG.


Canada announces funding for innovative project to help apprentices

From: Employment and Social Development Canada

Giving every Canadian a real and fair chance at success means helping them get the skills and training they need to succeed in a changing economy. The skilled trades are good, well-paying, middle-class jobs, and the Government of Canada is committed to supporting key groups, such as women, Indigenous people, newcomers and persons with disabilities, to work in the skilled trades through funding for projects led by unions and other organizations.

That is why today, the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour, announced that the Government of Canada is providing close to $182,000 to LiUNA Local 607 Training Centre for its project Mobile Training Classroom: Removing Barriers to Train. This project is funded under the Innovation in Apprenticeship Stream of the Union Training and Innovation Program.

The Government is investing $25 million annually in support of the Union Training and Innovation Program through two streams:

  • Stream 1: Investments in Training Equipment Stream
  • Stream 2: Innovation in Apprenticeship Stream

Projects help unions across Canada improve the quality of training through investments in up-to-date training equipment and materials, and support innovation and enhanced partnerships to address long-standing challenges that limit apprenticeship outcomes in Canada. As a result of this investment, more apprentices will be able to develop their skills, complete their training and find good, well-paying jobs.

As part of this project, LiUNA Local 607 will conduct mobile training to help up to 300 apprentices, including 15% women and 40% Indigenous people, to complete their technical training. LiUNA will build new partnerships with five community organizations and work with Anishnabek Employment and Training Services, Pays Plat First Nation and the Thunder Bay Construction Association to assist with recruitment of participants. By reducing geographic barriers faced by women and Indigenous people in northwestern Ontario communities, the Government is helping more women and Indigenous people find sustainable employment through the skilled trades.

As Canada’s economy continues to grow and create good, well-paying jobs, the Government is committed to ensuring that all Canadians share in and benefit from this success.


“Canada’s future success depends on building an economy that is as inclusive as it is innovative. That’s why our government is investing in this project that will help apprentices in Thunder Bay and surrounding communities, and especially those who face additional barriers to participate and succeed in the skilled trades, start exciting and well-paying careers in the trades.”

– The Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour

“LiUNA training programs are a fundamental tool to recruit and train the future workforce for contractor partners. The LiUNA Mobile Training Classroom is an innovative, accessible tool which delivers the most extensive training and health and safety courses to ensure LiUNA’s future workforce is safe and job-ready. The Mobile Training Classroom has enhanced and expanded LiUNA’s leading-edge training programs for Indigenous youth, highlighting the importance of accessibility, building upon tools for building a career in the skilled trades through training and education, a mandate signed in LiUNA’s Statement of Partnership with the Assembly of First Nations. The Mobile Training Classroom is an innovative approach to reach a solution in expanding training opportunities for remote Indigenous communities and ensure everyone has the opportunity to access skills training, leading to building a career and better future.”

– Joseph Mancinelli, Vice President and Regional Manager for Central and Eastern Canada, LiUNA

Quick facts

  • The Union Training and Innovation Program provides $25 million annually to support union-based apprenticeship training, innovation and enhanced partnerships in the Red Seal trades.
  • To further support key groups facing barriers so they can succeed in the skilled trades, the Government of Canada launched the Apprenticeship Incentive Grant for Women. This new grant provides $3,000 per year/ level, up to a maximum amount of $6,000, to registered women apprentices who have successfully completed their first or second year/level of an apprenticeship program in eligible Red Seal trades where women are under‑represented.
  • This, in combination with the existing Apprenticeship Completion Grant valued at $2,000, could result in combined grant support of up to $8,000 to eligible women over the course of their training. Eligible apprentices can apply by visiting Canada.ca/apprenticeship-grants.
  • In addition, the Government implemented two other initiatives to help apprentices succeed:
    • the Skilled Trades Awareness and Readiness Program with $46 million over five years, starting in 2018-19, with $10 million per year ongoing, to encourage groups facing barriers to explore careers in the trades, gain work experience, make informed career choices and develop the skills needed for the trades; and
    • the Women in Construction Fund with $10 million over three years, starting in 2018-19, to support projects building on existing models that have proven to be effective in attracting women to the trades, such as mentoring, coaching and tailored supports.
  • To further support the skilled trades, the Government proposed several new measures in Budget 2019:
    • $40 million over four years in funding for Skills Canada, starting in 2020-21, and $10 million per year ongoing to encourage more young people to consider training and work in the skilled trades;
    • $6 million over two years, starting in 2019-20, to create a national campaign to promote the skilled trades as a first-choice career for young people;
    • a new Apprenticeship Strategy to ensure that existing supports and programs available to apprentices address the barriers faced by those who want to work in the skilled trades and support employers who face challenges in hiring and retaining apprentices;
    • a lower interest rate on Canada Apprentice Loans starting in 2019-20 and making the first six months after a borrower completes their apprenticeship training interest-free; and
    • the new Canada Training Benefit, which would give workers money to help pay for training, provide income support during training and offer job protection so that workers can take the time they need to keep their skills relevant and in demand.
/Public Release. View in full here.

Free apprenticeships for young Queenslanders

The State Government will this morning announce free apprenticeships for young Queenslanders.

A whopping $32 million investment will offer free apprenticeships to anyone under the age of 21 in the state.

It’s hoped the Great Training for Quality Jobs plan will take away the training cost from employers, encouraging them to take on apprentices and trainees.

An estimated 60,000 young people will be able to get into a trade.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said it adds to payroll tax concessions already announced helping small businesses even more.

“This government is about jobs. Jobs in our regions, jobs in our cities, jobs in existing industries and jobs in the industries of the future.

“No government has helped to create more jobs than this government and we need to keep up the good work,” Premier Palaszczuk said.

The fully subsidised training will be offered in 139 industries including electrical, plumbing, healthcare, hospitality and early child care.

Skills Minister Shannon Fentiman says the plan includes initiatives that will target critical skills needs that address current skills shortages, the new skills needed for existing jobs, emerging opportunities brought about by technology advances, and regional and state-wide priorities.

“We need to plan for the future of Queensland and ensure we have the skilled workers we need now and for the emerging industries.

“This investment in free apprenticeships will support local businesses to be able to take on more apprentices and trainees – we are backing their business to grow.

“Right now, businesses bear the cost for training an apprentice, we will be removing this expense to support businesses to be able to take on more apprentices and trainees,” Ms Fentiman said.

For further information, click here.


Qld apprentices to have training fees paid

Young Queensland apprentices in nearly 140 high-demand jobs will have their training costs paid by the state government under a $32 million job creation program.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk urged businesses to take on more apprentices and trainees, with a promise to cover the cost of workers aged under 21.

The move is expected to progress around 60,000 young people into a trade in the next four years in occupations suffering skills shortages.

It will mean savings of up to $3000 over the life of the apprenticeship for businesses who currently fund the courses.

“We want to make sure that our young people have the opportunity to get the skills that they need to grow the Queensland economy into the future,” the premier told reporters on Monday.

The program covers apprenticeships in electrical work, plumbing, engineering, health care, hospitality, early childhood education, baking, commercial cookery and hairdressing.

“As our industry and the diversification of our economy happens, we have our young people prepared for the jobs of tomorrow.”


Government confirms major overhaul of polytechnics, apprenticeships

The government will merge the 16 polytechnics into a single institute next year and replace all 11 industry training organisations within three years as part of a total overhaul of the vocational education system.

A file photo shows university students studying for an exam

The polytechnic sector has suffered from falling enrolments in recent years and some institutes required multi-million-dollar government loans and bailouts. Photo: 123RF

Education Minister Chris Hipkins said the new institute would be created in April 2020 and would be a new kind of organisation providing both on and off-the-job learning.

He said the head office would not be in Auckland nor Wellington and it would be known provisionally as the New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology.

Mr Hipkins said the institute would take over responsibility for workplace training and apprenticeships from industry training organisations over the next two or three years.

He said the Industry Training Organisations (ITOs) would be replaced by four to seven workforce development councils that would be set up by 2022 to influence vocational education and training.

The changes confirmed options for overhauling the vocational education and training the government had consulted on earlier in the year.

ITOs lobbied strongly against the changes, arguing they would wreck a system that was currently working well and that they were being made solely to prop up failing polytechnics.

Polytechnics were more positive about the proposals, but some regional institutions were worried about losing their autonomy to a national organisation.

The polytechnic sector had suffered from falling enrolments in recent years and some institutes required multi-million-dollar government loans and bailouts.

Mr Hipkins said the changes were needed because the current vocational education system was not working well enough.

“Nearly nine out of 10 of our businesses are not training through industry training. Yet at the same time, 71 percent of employers surveyed say there is, or will soon be, a skills shortage in their industry area,” he said.

“The plain truth is that while there are some bright spots, the current system is not set up to produce skilled people at the scale we need.”

Mr Hipkins said the government would set up regional groups to advise on local interests and skill needs.

It would also unify the currently separate funding systems for subsidising on and off-the-job training.

Existing polytechnic councils will be disestablished

A summary document said the national institute would standardise teaching programmes among its 16 campuses and enable them to share resources and support each other.

It said the institute would be set up as a national body with 16 subsidiaries for up to two years as a transitional measure. Existing polytechnic councils would be disestablished and replaced with subsidiary boards appointed by a national council.

The campuses would have sufficient financial delegations to make decisions on behalf of their own communities and would have nearly 140,000 students in total between them.

The document said the changes would give industry greater control over aspects of vocational education through new Workforce Development Councils (WDCs).

It said the councils would decide if courses were fit for purpose or whether they should be taught on-the-job, on campus, or online.

“Unless a programme has the WDC’s confidence – effectively, industry’s confidence – it won’t be approved and won’t be funded,” the report said.

“They will also provide advice to the Tertiary Education Commission on its funding decisions more generally and will get to determine the mix of training in their industries.”

The report said the councils could also require courses to have a final external exam to ensure all graduates met the same standard.

It said wānanga would remain outside the councils’ standard-setting, except for situations where they were supporting on-the-job learning.

The report said removing responsibility for on-the-job training from ITOs would break down barriers between classroom training and training in the workplace.

It said workplace training would be provided by the new national institute and by private providers and wānanga.

Training organisations mixed reactions

Building and Construction Industry Training Organisation chief executive Warwick Quinn said the government’s announcement was disappointing.

“The sector was very clear in its view that the status quo was performing well and should be maintained. They are concerned the reforms have the potential to undermine the confidence of construction employers and apprentices at a time when construction is booming and skills are more critical than ever,” he said.

Taranaki’s Western Institute of Technology chief executive John Snook said the changes were “the most significant move in the sector for a generation” and would have an “extraordinary flow-on effect”.

Mr Snook said the government had done what polytechnics should have done themselves years ago and the reforms would be good for Taranaki.