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Apprentice numbers fall, but number of starting tradies steady

Labour force figures released yesterday by Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) show that seasonally adjusted employment increased by 17,900 in May, to stand at a record high of 11,930,700, and is now 224,800 (or 1.9 per cent) higher than the level recorded a year ago and above the decade average rate, of 1.7 per cent.

According to the latest apprentice and trainee data published by the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER), 171,200 people started apprenticeships and traineeships in 2015 a decrease of 10.1% than in 2014. However trade commencements showed signs of stabilising at year’s end.

The data shows there were 88 800 non-trades commencements in 2015, 17.9% fewer than in 2014. Commencements decreased in community and personal services by 23.5%, clerical and administrative workers down 21.4% and sales workers down 14.0%.

According to the NCVER data, while trade commencements were down 11.1% in the December 2015 quarter compared with the December 2014 quarter, over the 2015 year there were 0.3% more trade commencements than in 2014. Rises were recorded in construction trade workers up 20.0%, in particular in plumbers up 30.7% and bricklayers, carpenters and joiners up 12.3%.

As at 31 December 2015, there were 278 600 apprentices and trainees in-training, 11.8% fewer than at 31 December 2014.

BUSY At Work CEO, Paul Miles, said it was concerning to see the decrease in the apprenticeship and traineeship numbers however positive to see the starting tradies steadying.

“In order for Australia to build a robust and skilled workforce we need employers to seriously consider taking on an apprentice or trainee.

“The latest NCVER data showing the rise in starting tradies is encouraging and hopefully this will mean a flow on affect to the overall number of apprenticeships and traineeships in the future,” Mr Miles said.

With over 600 apprenticeships and traineeships available, BUSY is there to provide support for both the employer and the apprentice throughout the life of the apprenticeship or traineeship.

The Australian Government also provide support through incentives and funding for eligible employers and apprentices.

For further information call 13 BUSY (12 28 79) or visit



Copies of Australian vocational education and training statistics: Apprentices and trainees 2015, December quarter are available from

MEDIA CONTACT: Leanne Macnamara, Public Relations Coordinator BUSY At Work

0438 173 960

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