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Indigenous employment on the rise through apprenticeships

Australia’s construction industry is one of the country’s strongest, with infrastructure projects and residential developments both contributing to rising activity. While the industry has always been a hotbed for apprenticeship opportunities in Queensland, recent research has revealed it has also become a key driver of indigenous employment as well.

For people across Australia, construction apprenticeships are a vital first step on the career ladder, one that introduces them to a growing industry with plenty of opportunities. In this regard, it’s important that the industry encourages diversity and provides equal opportunity for all Australians. As a recent report from Construction Skills Queensland (CSQ) found, this is exactly what is happening.

Indigenous apprenticeships numbers on the rise

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, April marked the fifth straight month of increases in dwelling approvals nationwide. In particular, Queensland saw a 2.9 per cent increase in these approvals, putting it in line with the national standards. With growth such as this, it’s important that the state’s workforce is growing in support.

CSQ’s 2016 Apprentice Annual found that the number of Indigenous apprentices in the Australian construction industry has grown significantly in the past 10 years, contributing to a more diverse workforce. In 2006, there were around 1,000 indigenous apprentices in construction, accounting for 3.7 per cent of the total number of apprentices in the industry.

Now, that number has grown by 30 per cent, and 1,310 indigenous people are currently in training for a construction apprenticeship across the country. The overall proportion has risen as well. Now, 5 per cent of all apprentices in Australia’s construction industry are Indigenous.

CSQ CEO Brett Schimming noted that the diversification of the workforce is having an affect on areas of regional Queensland as well, granting people in many areas around the state access to employment opportunities.

“Employers across Queensland have implemented a number of programs to help Indigenous persons to find a pathway into the construction industry,” he explained. “These initiatives have been particularly successful in regional areas where major resource projects have provided opportunities for nearby Indigenous communities.”

There are some sub-sectors within the industry where indigenous workers are growing to be an even higher proportion. For example, 10 per cent of apprenticeships in the concreting and bricklaying sectors are indigenous.

By Leanne Macnamara, Public Relations Coordinator

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