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NECA supports industry call for apprenticeship action

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NECA CEO Suresh Manickam has announced it supports calls from three peak business bodies for decisive government action on Australia’s apprenticeship system.

This announcement follows the joint release of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), Ai Group and the Business Council of Australia, calling on the government to avert a crisis in the apprenticeship system to ensure that the number of Australians commencing and completing apprenticeships does not continue to decline.

“A key challenge for the electrical contracting sector as we move towards the next decade is the critical supply of skilled electrical workers. With the retirement of highly skilled and long-term workers, not enough places are being filled by the next generation of up and coming apprentices,” said Suresh.

“NECA has strongly supported reforms made to the Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector by this government which has started to turn around the mess of the former VET FEE-HELP system, whilst removing rogue training providers that failed the industry. However, we agree that more needs to be done in order to ensure that pathways can continue to be accessed by potential apprentices across all age groups. In particular, the ongoing falls in the take-up of adult or mature age apprenticeships should be a wake-up call to government that proper incentives are required to attract small business to hire mature workers. NECA’s 2016 Policy Statement called upon the government to support employers who employ adult apprentices through the provision of a wage subsidy that matches the difference between the hourly rate of a junior apprentice and adult apprentice across each year stage.”

Figures released by the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) for the September 2016 quarter show a year-on-year decline of apprentices, with 278,500 apprentices and trainees in-training at September 30 2016.

The take up of trades has fallen by more than 10,000 since the same point last year and by 20,000 since 2011, though electrotechnology remains one of the more widely commenced and completed apprenticeships.

“We urge the government to create a more streamlined national apprenticeship system that removes waste and duplication across state and territory borders, a stronger employer and industry focus to apprenticeship creation, and proper incentives to ensure that mature age workers can be retrained whilst their experience and knowledge can be put to good use, thus helping industry and the national economy in the process,” Suresh concluded.

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