UnionsWA has commented on the release today by the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) of data on apprentice and trainee numbers in WA. Over the four years from 2011 to 2015 the number of 15 to 19 year old West Australians commencing an apprenticeship or traineeship have declined from 10,500 to 7,400.
Meredith Hammat, Secretary, UnionsWA said:
“University just isn’t for everyone. For young West Australians apprenticeship and traineeship opportunities have been disappearing rapidly over the past four years. Unlike classroom-only training, apprenticeships and traineeships include paid work and practical experience.
“These opportunities are also important for the long-term benefit of our economy as well as the immediate job skill needs for employers and government.
“We’ve seen with the resources boom that has just ended, that if we don’t help give young people jobs skills then big employers put pressure on governments to allow in more temporary skilled migrant workers to fill local jobs.
“The WA Liberal Government has failed to plan for jobs and skills in WA.
“The urgent need for a WA jobs plan should include requiring lead contractors for public projects, and projects that mine public resources, to meet targets for apprentices and trainees as a condition of profiting from public support.
“The WA Government needs to buy local, not out-source overseas. Our public institutions – such as Western Power – have traditionally been an important source for apprentices. We know that publicly-owned agencies consistently employ more apprentices than privatised companies.
“TAFE fees need to be lowered, not increased. Large increases in TAFE fees and associated student debt, as well as opening up vocational training to predatory for-profit providers, has been a disaster over east.
“Most of these policies have been pursued by the WA Government for short term gain.
“As youth unemployment has risen the true long term costs are now being felt.
“Young people from low to middle income families – those most at risk of unemployment and less likely to go onto University – are also those least able and willing to take on huge debts in order to gain job skills."
"Young people in education and training 2015" (Statistical Report, 23 November 2016) by the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) is available here.