New South Wales Skills Minister John Barilaro has highlighted the need for more foreign workers as almost half the nation’s young apprentices drop out of their training.
Mr Barilaro told The Australian that the crisis is likely to deepen with the average age of a tradesperson now being 40; a looming shortage of plumbers, electricians and builders; and the unwillingness of school-leavers to pursue trade skills.
“We’re paying the price of two or three decades of telling kids that trade jobs won’t get you a great lifestyle or income,’’ he said. “Parents are encouraging kids to go to uni instead.
“But for most tradies, they end up as entrepreneurs, running their own business.’’
He further emphasized that despite industry’s demand for skilled trades workers, nearly half the young Australians who start an apprenticeship drop out within four years. According to data from the National Centre for Vocational Education Research
around 50% of all upper-secondary students enroll in vocational programs. However it showed 56% who began training in 2010 had finished working in their trade four years later.
“Only one in three apprentices in construction trades, hairdressing or the food industry completed their apprenticeships, while one-third of construction workers and 15% of hairdressers pulled out of an apprenticeship within the first year.”
Master Builders chief executive Wilhelm Harnisch told The Australian that the trend was “disturbing’’, as the construction industry would need 300,000 extra trades workers over the next decade. He called on the Federal government to intervene and implement measures that would arrest the decay. He also highlighted the primary role the sc457 visa would play in filling the gap in trades jobs as it would provide more flexible arrangements to access overseas labour to address shortages.
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