Apprenticeship completions low as more jump ship

Australia’s apprenticeship completion rate is languishing at below 50%, new data reveals, with a spike in withdrawals last year putting further pressure on apprentice numbers.

Australia’s apprenticeship completion rate is languishing at below 50%, new data reveals, with a spike in withdrawals last year putting further pressure on apprentice numbers.

According to the National Centre for Vocational Education Research study, just 49.5% of apprenticeships and traineeships started in 2002 were completed within the following five years.

Apprentices in food trades were the least likely to see their training through to completion, with only 31.1% of those who commenced in 2002 lasting the distance.

Hairdressing, business and administration and intermediate level sales apprentices also had completion rates well below the average.

The relatively low completion may have helped spur employers to take on more apprentices. Numbers of new apprenticeships and traineeships commenced has increased steadily each year from 114,000 in 1997 to 276,000 in 2007.

But the increase number of new apprentices has been more than matched by a faster lift in the number of withdrawals from training, from 44,000 in 1997 to 135,000 in 2007. There was a particularly sharp spike in withdrawals last year, up 7%.

Apprentice numbers are set to increase even further in coming years under a $2 billion Federal Government plan to create an additional 630,000 training places.

The debate over another Labor industrial relations promise, to abolish the Australian Building and Construction Commission, has ratcheted up another notch with the release of research showing that labour productivity in the building industry has lifted since the inception of the body in 2002.

According to Econtech economic modeling commissioned by the ABCC, labour productivity in 2007 was 10.5% higher than it would have been if pre-2002 productivity trends had continued.

“The report’s findings indicate that a greater respect for workplace relations laws has led to improved productivity,” ABCC Commissioner John Lloyd says.

Labor promised before last year’s election that it would roll the ABCC’s functions into those of its planned general IR body, Fair Work Australia, in 2010. Unions argue the ABCC means building workers have fewer rights than others and should be abolished immediately.

 

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