Trainee and apprentice numbers continue to fall in a worrying report from the National Centre for Vocational Education Research.
The report for the March quarter shows that nationally there were 275,200 apprentices and trainees in-training, a 3.7 per cent decrease from March 31.
There were also decreases in commencements and completions compared with March 2016.
Commencements dropped 0.1 per cent to 56,200 while completions fell a staggering 5.1 per cent to 25,300.
The 12 months to March 2017 told a similar story. Compared with the previous March, commencements fell 1.9 per cent and completions fell 15.1 per cent in the year to March 2017.
In WA, there were 36,700 apprentices and trainees at the end of the March quarter, a slight improvement from the 35,800 for the December 2016 quarter but still well below the 40,400 recorded in March 2016.
The past two quarters have been the lowest in the past five years.
Completions in WA are the lowest they’ve been in the past five years at 3000.
There were some positives in WA’s figures however, with 6300 commencements in the March quarter, up from 4300 in the December quarter and around the same as the March 2016 quarter.
Apprenticeship Support Australia manager Lena Constantine says the slowing economy, training market factors like increased fees and red tape had contributed to the fall in apprentices and trainees.
She says governments can improve the situation by making adjustments to the training sector.
“While the economic factors are harder to influence or exert any control over, the training market factors impacting on employer training behaviour can be explored,” she says.
“In slow economic times, governments need to look at pulling levers that ensure the incentives, subsidies and flexibility of the system are at optimal levels to ensure employers are able to continue training.
“This will ensure that in stronger economic periods, employers will have access to the skills they need to meet increased demand.
“The cost of addressing skill shortages in peak economic periods is too great on our State's productivity, as we learnt in 2010-12 during the resource boom.”
Despite the doom and gloom, trainees and apprentices remain a great way to boost business and ensure your workforce is skilled into the future.
Apprenticeship Support Australia administers over $17 million in incentives to employers in WA every year and walks employers through every step of the process.
In the last financial year alone, Apprenticeship Support Australia distributed more than $6 million in commencement/recommencement incentives and more than $8.9 million in completion incentives to WA employers.
►For more information on apprenticeship and traineeship packages, skills in demand and employer incentive eligibility, visit our website or call 1300 363 831.