Latest Queensland apprentice data delivers small sliver of optimism

Wednesday 5 December, 2018 | By: Catherine Liddell

The Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland (CCIQ) welcomes the latest results on Queensland’s apprentice data released by the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) with almost 40,000 apprentices added to the state economy in the last year.

As at 30 June 2018, apprenticeship and traineeship commencement numbers were up 2.8 per cent from June 2017, with 39,040 new starts in 12 months to June and a rise of 10% from the same period in 2016.

CCIQ’s Senior Policy Advisor, Catherine Liddell, says the latest data release will provide a further boost to business confidence going into the new year although challenges around completion rates still need to be addressed.

“The increase in apprentice and trainee starts will be welcomed by businesses, particularly as it continues the rise in commencements year on year since 2016.

“Despite an uptick in commencements, completions rates remain an area of concern as students fail to see their studies through,” Ms Liddell said.

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Source: NCVER, December 2018

Ms Liddell says rising commencement numbers in Queensland, particularly against disappointing figures nationally, while welcomed by businesses should be received cautiously.

“With the upturn in the resources sector, small businesses could reasonably expect commencements to be linked to growth in that industry.

“Additionally, higher wages across the resources industry more broadly may be challenging for smaller businesses to secure apprentices despite the increase in numbers.

“Arguably a degree of cautiousness on the part of small businesses is perhaps more apparent where occupations with the largest increases in commencement were ‘machinery operators and drivers’ (up 24.7 percent) and ‘automotive and engineering trades workers’ (up 16.2 per cent).

“Furthermore, growth in commencements were made largely by males (up 3.4 per cent from 2017) compared to females (up 1.6 percent from 2017), further supporting the belief,” Ms Liddell said.

Ms Liddell said apprenticeship and traineeship commencements moving upwards present a more pleasing outlook for the economy generally.

“It’s a sign, albeit a small sign, that the Queensland economy could finally be turning around.”

In light of failed negotiations between the Federal and State governments on the Skilling Australians Fund (SAF), Ms Liddell says businesses are hoping apprentices do not abandon Queensland for other States or Territories as projects under the SAF are likely to commence in the next year.

“The disappointment from Queensland failing to sign onto the SAF, and receiving significant federal funding towards apprenticeships, is still very much a sore point for the business community.

“Small businesses across the State are now hanging on to the hope that the Prime Minister’s announcements last week to review and reform the Vocational Education and Training system will be the catalyst for significant apprenticeship and traineeship growth here in Queensland,” Ms Liddell said.

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