Western Australia is at growing risk of a skills shortage if our State’s significant decline in apprenticeships and traineeships isn’t resolved as a priority.

Today’s release of the National Centre for Vocational Education Research highlights that the number of WA trainees and apprentices in-training continues to fall, down 7.4 per cent in the year to March 2018 – more than six times the national change.

The number of apprentice and trainee commencements in WA have also continued to decline – down 3.2 per cent over the same period, while completions are down 4.2 per cent.

The construction industry is feeling the brunt of this decline, with apprenticeship and traineeship commencements down 12.4 per cent. We have however seen strong growth in automotive and engineering trade commencements, up 33.8 per cent, which could be attributed to a slowly strengthening resources sector.

Existing worker commencements have suffered the biggest hit, following the WA State Government’s removal of the payroll tax exemption for existing trainees, declining 24 per cent in March on a year-on-year basis.

The Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA (CCI) raised serious concerns that removing the payroll tax exemption for existing employees would result in a sharp decline in existing worker commencements, which is now clearly evident in these results.

Apprenticeship Support Australia, which is delivered by CCI, has identified that in the first half of 2018, a month after the policy was changed, traineeships for existing workers in WA fell by 44.4 per cent compared to the same period last year.

It is critical that WA is adequately prepared for future economic growth, particularly in key sectors such as agribusiness, construction, defence, manufacturing, energy, resources and tourism.

CCI urges the WA State Government and Federal Government to finalise their Skilling Australians Fund negotiations to help incentivise employers to utilise apprenticeships and traineeships. In addition, we encourage the State Government to prioritise its proposed Grants Scheme industry consultation.

Apprenticeship Support Australia recently launched its second national Youth Census by Skillsroad, Australia’s leading youth and careers platform, to investigate the concerns and issues affecting more than 13,000 Australians between the ages of 15-24 when it comes to their transition from school to work.

As the only survey exploring youth employment on this scale, the insights gained from the Skillsroad Youth Census will be used to inform the development of new tools and resources within the workplace to best support our youth. The Census is open to all Australian’s aged 15-24 until 30 September 2018 and can be accessed at: http://bit.ly/Youth-Census-2018.