WA traineeship and apprenticeship numbers continue to fall, down 9 per cent in the year to 30 June 2017, according to the latest data from the National Centre for Vocational Education Research.
Commencements dropped 9.5 per cent and have been in decline since 2013.
However, there was some positivity with completions increasing 3.4 per cent.
The number of people undertaking apprenticeships and traineeships in June 2017 was 34,609 –
a number so low that it is comparable to in-training numbers a decade ago.
Given that Western Australia’s working age population (15-64 years) has increased 17.2 per cent since 2006-07, there should be a greater number of apprenticeships and traineeships being undertaken, says Apprenticeship Support Australia Manager Lena Constantine.
“The participation rate of the working aged population undertaking apprenticeships or traineeships is now 1.97 per cent. In 2006-07, this rate was 2.33 per cent,” she says.
“These concerning declines can be attributed to a mix of policy and economic conditions. While the tough economic conditions have made investing in apprenticeships and traineeships difficult for employers, it has been coupled with the State Government reducing its support for employers to train through national training contracts.”
In 2014, the State Government increased the prices of enrolling an employee into a funded traineeship. The price increases have seen the cost of some qualifications triple in five years.
The State Government has also dramatically decreased the number of high-level qualifications it subsidised to encourage employers to up-skill existing workers – down by 41 per cent since 2014-15.
Constantine says the Apprenticeship Office has also increased its regulation of training contracts, adding limits to the number of existing worker contracts an employer can register in a year and extending assessment processes by seeking additional information from employers before approving training contracts.
“Removing the payroll tax exemption for existing worker trainees and for trainees on salaries of over $100,000 has also been proposed by the Treasury,” she says.
“Employers are vital to growing apprenticeship and traineeship numbers. The State Government needs to work with industry to find solutions to lift the apprenticeship and traineeship numbers.”
►For more information on apprenticeship and traineeship packages, skills in demand and employer incentive eligibility, visit www.apprenticeshipsupport.com.au or call 1300 363 831.