As Western Australia prepares for another stream of major projects, the State is at an increasing risk of skills shortages if a significant decline in apprenticeships and traineeships isn’t resolved as a priority.
The National Centre for Vocational Education Research recently highlighted that the number of WA trainees and apprentices in training continues to fall, down 7.4 per cent in the year to March 2018. This is more than six times the national change.
The number of apprentice and trainee commencements in WA has also continued to decline, down 3.2 per cent over the same period, while completions were down 4.2 per cent.
The construction industry is facing the biggest decline, with apprenticeship and traineeship commencements down 12.4 per cent.
While overall commencements have continued downwards in WA, it is however great to see that trade qualification commencements increased by 9.9 per cent over the past 12 months.
It’s not just the decline in apprentices and trainees that are a concern, so too is the shortfall in university graduate opportunities, which if not resolved, risks the development of priority skills across industry.
To respond to this shortfall, in 2016 the Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA partnered with Horizon Power and Engineers Australia, to create the Engineering Graduate Program to support university graduates to find employment as well as industry work experience to ensure they can complete their degree.
Engineering students need to complete more than 400 hours or three months full-time equivalent before they can graduate. Synergy, Western Power and Alinta have since joined the partnership to further boost graduate opportunities.
I urge employers to consider their skills needs for future projects and the increased economic activity that will come and start investing in apprentices and trainees now.
CCI and Apprenticeship Support Australia offers a range of support services to employers, graduates and apprentices throughout their training journey. We want to work with you to increase completions, so that business and individuals maximise outcomes from their investments in education and training.