Home | Top Stories | Decimated apprentice and trainee numbers justifies $4 billion intervention, ITECA warns

Decimated apprentice and trainee numbers justifies $4 billion intervention, ITECA warns

The peak body representing independent providers in the higher education, vocational education, training and skills sector, the Independent Tertiary Education Council Australia (ITECA), has welcomed the government’s $4 billion injection amid a massive decline in commencements in the June 2020 quarter.

Fresh data presented from the National Centre for Vocational Education and Research (NCVER) has shown a 25 per cent decrease in apprentice and trainee commencements from the June quarter of 2019 to the June quarter of 2020, equating to 21,115 fewer students. 

Other troubling information contained in the report shows a high number of both non-completions and cancellations and withdrawals. For example, 83,965 fewer students (5.7 per cent) completed their courses in the June quarter of 2020 compared with the June quarter of 2019. Cancellations and withdrawals from traineeship and apprenticeship courses also dropped 9.4 per cent over the year, resulting in 77,835 fewer qualified individuals. 

“During the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was clear that the jobs of apprentices and trainees would be at risk. The data released today confirms the worst fears of the independent vocational education and training sector,” ITECA chief executive Troy Williams said. 

The NCVER data also shows the COVID-19 pandemic affected not only apprentice and trainee commencements, but the ability and/or appetite for those already enrolled to complete their courses. To illustrate, in comparing the June quarter of 2020 with the June quarter of 2019, apprentice and trainee completions plummeted by 14,820 or 24.4 per cent. 

“What this shows is that the Australian Government’s investment of around $4 billion to support the  wages of apprentices and trainees was a timely intervention. Without that assistance the outcome would be far worse – the Australian Government’s actions have supported the jobs of many thousands of apprentices and trainees that otherwise would not be in vocational training,” Williams said.

ITECA is of the firm belief that the “initiative shown by the Australian Government will support a skills-based recovery” in an increasingly difficult economic and global trade environment.

“As Australia’s economy starts to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses will need access to a skilled workforce. It is in this context that the Australian Government’s commitment to supporting the wages of existing apprentices and trainees, plus those commencing an apprenticeship or traineeship, is exactly what is required,” Williams added.. 

Independent Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) typically support around 45 per cent of all apprentices  and trainees nationally. 

The NCVER’s report provides more in-depth analysis, state and territory comparisons and can be accessed here. 

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