Apprenticeship numbers soar to record levels

A record number of people are starting and completing apprenticeships at businesses, new figures show.

 

According to a Federal Government report, there has been a 9.2% increase in apprenticeship and traineeship commencements nationally in the year to June 30, 2010.

 

Queensland recorded a 12.6% increase during this period, followed by NSW and Victoria at 9%, WA at 7.2% and SA at 6.4%.

 

Senator Chris Evans, Federal Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Jobs and Workplace Relations, says the surge in apprenticeships is the result of a $4.8 billion investment in government funding.

 

“The report shows there has been a 16.9% increase in [national] trades commencements in the past 12 months, while the number of people enrolling in non-trade occupations has also risen by 6.2%,” Evans says.

 

“Not only have overall commencements increased, but completions have increased by almost 5%.”

 

According to Evans, the June quarter 2010 commencements are now on par with the June quarter 2008 commencements, indicating a full recovery from the GFC slump.

 

In total, there were 440,600 apprentices and trainees in-training as at the end of June 2010, an increase of 3.2% from 2009.

 

Heather Ridout, chief executive of the Australian Industry Group, says the increase in apprenticeship commencements shows the industry is responding to the skills shortage.

 

“The traditional trades are a key area to focus on in addressing skill shortages and the growth in apprenticeships needs to be sustained,” Ridout says.

 

“The results show that the Kickstart Bonus appears to have been a success in supporting apprenticeships and we are strongly of the view that there should be some redesign of the incentive to make it permanent.”

 

The Apprenticeship Kickstart Bonus, which ran from December 2009 to February 2010, was a $3,350 incentive for employers to take on an Australian Apprentice.

 

Eligible employers were those who employed an Australian Apprentice, aged 19 or under, who was undertaking a Certificate III or IV qualification that leads to a skills shortage trade occupation.

 

Trade occupations in national skills shortages are those listed on the National Skills Needs List, which is available online.

 

According to an Australian Apprenticeships spokesperson, taking on an apprentice or trainee should be looked upon as a business investment.

 

“No matter what industry you are in, investing in training through an Australian Apprenticeship can provide your business with real benefits and contribute to your bottom line,” the spokesperson says.

 

Australian Apprenticeships are available for multiple qualification levels in more than 500 occupations. For a full list, visit www.australianapprenticeships.gov.au.

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