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Economic downturn blamed for decline in Australian apprenticeships and traineeships

Latest trend estimates show that the number of people starting trade and non-trade apprenticeships and traineeships have declined.

An economic downturn has been attributed for a recent decline in the number of people commencing trade and non-trade apprenticeships and traineeships in Australia.

Released by the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER), Apprentices and trainees 2014–early trend estimates, June quarter, provides seasonally adjusted and smoothed data at the national level for trade and non-trade apprentice commencements.

Estimates show there were 21 700 commencements in trade apprenticeships or traineeships in the June 2014 quarter, down 1200 from March 2014 quarter. The number of trade commencements has declined for three consecutive quarters, from the September 2013 quarter.

“We know from our research that commencements in trade apprenticeships closely follow the economic cycle”, said Ms Sue Fergusson, Acting Managing Director, (NCVER).

Commencements in non-trade apprenticeships or traineeships declined from 31 100 in the March 2014 quarter to 28 800 in the June 2014 quarter. The latest estimation shows commencements in non-trade apprenticeships or traineeships have declined in each quarter over the last year.

It’s a record low for the past decade and a 21.3 per cent decline compared with June 2013.

Underpinning the overall decline was the continued drop in the commencement of new non-trade related apprenticeships and traineeships, which have fallen from a decade high of 71,800 in March 2012 to just 28,800 in June this year.

“Following the changes to commencement incentives paid to employers, the number of starting non-trade apprentices and trainees decreased. Time will tell if a new pattern will emerge,” said Ms Fergusson.

The report states, “Governments in the past have tended to focus on minimising the number of out-of-trade apprentices and trainees, and this makes sense in terms of the tragedy of young people being unable to complete their training. But completion rates may rise and the bigger issue is likely to be reductions in the number of commencements in the trades, thus sowing the seeds of future skills shortages.”

The NCVER report recommended that policy take into account the differences between apprenticeships and traineeships and how they apply at the occupational level.

Paul Miles, CEO BUSY At Work said “Although these numbers are disappointing, as an organisation we have continued to experience a positive position in the market.

We will continue to build on this positivity by supporting industry to develop new and innovative pathways into Apprenticeships wherever we can.”

NCVER will release detailed apprenticeship and traineeship information later this month, with the release of the March 2014 quarterly data. This information will include national and state/territory level in-training, completion, and cancellation and withdrawal data. Apprenticeship and traineeship data for the June quarter 2014 will be published in December 2014.


MEDIA CONTACT: Leanne de Toerkenczy, Public Relations Coordinator 0438 173 960

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