There seems to be a disconnect: skilled vacancies in the trades are rising but youth unemployment levels seem to be stuck at unacceptably high levels.
It has to do with a lack of pathways into trades with many students going straight to university from secondary school and emerging to face time too long on the sidelines before they find full-time work.
Two organisations have joined forces to tackle the problem, Apprenticeship Employment Network (AEN) and Global Apprenticeship Network (GAN). GAN brings together businesses to identify skill shortages where apprenticeships can help young people meet these shortfalls.
The move will support Australian companies in offering apprenticeship and traineeship opportunities, which have been on the decline. Commencement numbers have been falling for the past four years and completion rates remain low at the same time as Australia’s need for targeted, skilled workers continues to grow.
Gary Workman, AEN Executive Director, said, “Young people are not attracted into trades despite the fact that there are lots of job opportunities and the skills are greatly in demand.
"More than 65% of our youth go straight into university from secondary school without understanding the employment and career pathway options that are available. It’s concerning to see that only half of VET participants successfully complete their training and the number is similar for university students.
“Almost half (45%) of the total VET participants are existing workers who are more than 25 years old. If we don’t take action soon, our training system will not be able to meet the country’s demand for skilled labour and many young people will miss out on opportunities for rewarding careers as tradespeople,” he added.
Dean Luciani, GAN Australian Chair, said, “There is no long term vision to support youth and skill shortage industries. Trades like automotive cannot find young people willing to work in the industry. Part of the reason is the poor public perception of VET so some apprenticeship opportunities go unfulfilled in metro areas. GAN brings countries together and we see that issues such as youth unemployment, an aging workforce and changes in technology and employer needs are common in many places around the world.”
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