Apprentice support plan urgently needed

The Electrical Trades Union has called for a detailed plan to reverse the decline of apprenticeship commencements and completions, amid concern about the choice of organisations to deliver important support services. 

The Australian Apprenticeship Support Services, to be rolled out from July 1, is meant to deliver strengthened support for apprentices who are at the highest risk of non-completion.

But ETU national secretary Michael Wright said there was little evidence that the providers chosen for the clean energy occupation tender could improve completion rates. 

“Unfortunately, apprentice numbers have fallen while the companies chosen to deliver this program had funding so it’s difficult to fathom why they have been reappointed. This all points to the need for a serious overhaul and a robust plan. We can’t expect things to improve if we keep using the same formula. 

“The government’s Australian Apprenticeship Support Services program, and commitment to drive up apprenticeship completions, will face serious hurdles without a clear strategy to reverse years of failure in apprentice retention. 

“With a forecast shortage of 32,000 electricians by 2030, a huge drop in commencements, and female participation stubbornly low, it’s incumbent on the federal government and these support providers to set out exactly how they are going to reverse years of declining apprenticeship commencements and completions, and lift female involvement. 

“The electrical workforce is fundamental to Australia meeting its international climate obligations and keeping the lights on.”

This article was publised on 30 April 2024.