Crucial support needed to rescue apprenticeships
The Hunter Business Chamber and state’s peak business organisation, Business NSW, say immediate Government intervention is needed to rescue work opportunities for more than 50,000 young people.
The call for action is in response to the report Skilling Australia for a better future: Supporting apprenticeships through COVID-19 produced by Business NSW on the impact of the pandemic on apprenticeships.
The report, compiled using data and survey responses from apprentices and employers in the Australian Apprenticeship Support Network, predicts the apprenticeship intake for 2020 will be more than 30 per cent lower than in 2019, dropping from 151,000 to 97,000.
“That’s 54,000 predominantly young people missing out on the opportunity to upskill, reskill and get a job, and potentially thousands of businesses missing out on skills that they will need in coming years,” Hunter Business Chamber CEO Bob Hawes said.
“We knew that apprentices were doing it tough, but we hadn’t realised how tough. These findings certainly support the feedback we have been receiving from businesses in the region about their capacity to train and retain apprentices in the current environment.
“Without significant intervention, the number of apprentices in training in 2021 will fall to levels not seen since 1998 and is unlikely to recover until 2025, even if the economy is on the path to recovery.”
Mr Hawes said employers needed more support from Government, including a significant subsidy for new-starter apprentice wages and the continuation of subsidies for existing apprenticeships.
“The Supporting Apprentices and Trainees subsidy has been highly effective but needs to continue past September and be phased out over the next year,” he said.
“The report also calls for an industry-supported pre-apprenticeship program to help apprentices prepare for the workforce, and subsidies for Group Training Organisations to support apprentices and their employers.
“COVID-19 has had a huge impact on businesses and we need to support those that are willing to provide training opportunities but are financially challenged by current circumstances.”