Apprentices hold key to Queensland’s economic revitalisation
We have seen the latest ABS figures showing Queensland’s economy escaping a recession – but only narrowly.
Queensland’s economy grew by just 0.5 per cent during 2014-15, and with the State’s unemployment rate of 6.2 per cent (October) being significantly higher than the national rate at 5.9 per cent, should Queensland look towards apprenticeships as a path towards economic revitalisation?
Apprentices have been a part of Queensland’s employment structure for decades and a large number of small businesses have taken part in developing highly skilled workers through apprenticeship programs.
These small businesses have helped in lowering unemployment rate, increasing business revenue and transitioning youths into learning a trade for life.
Both State and Federal Governments have over the years introduced a number of incentive schemes to promote apprentices to the business community.
In Queensland, and largely due to the golden days of our mining boom, we have seen apprenticeship models modernised, resulting in a workforce that has gone a considerable way in meeting our skills demand.
Now, governments must continue to reform apprenticeship models so that businesses can continue to embrace them.
The graph below shows the irregularity in the number of commencements of apprenticeships over the last five years.
The fluctuations provide significant concern for some industries, particularly for those where doing an apprenticeship is the only way workers can become licensed.
The State Government’s payroll tax rebate initiative for apprentices and trainees, which commenced in July, has reported employers claiming $2.4 million in rebates to date.
CCIQ will be keeping an eye over the next year on what impact this will have to the overall number of apprenticeship commencements, and equally important, completions.
Looking historically, there is some evidence of an increase in uptake due to the introduction of government incentives.
The spike in commencements from September 2011 is largely due to the mining boom, spurred by apprenticeship incentive programs to cater for the significant skills shortage in the mining industry.
Other initiatives following the mining boom have resulted in some slight increase in apprenticeship commencements.
For that reason, CCIQ welcomes the State Government’s payroll tax rebate initiative for apprentices and trainees with hope that it can pave a way for Queensland to achieve a highly qualified workforce, meet our skills demand, and raise economic outputs of small businesses across the state.