Two things stand out when you look at the latest data on apprentice numbers from the National Centre for Vocational Education.

Firstly, the success of the Boosting Apprenticeships Commencement program before it was closed in June 2022.

The other is the reduction in apprentice numbers after the program closed.

Analysis of the 10-year time series data undertaken by the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry shows that since the program closed to new entrants, over half of the progress made in boosting apprenticeship numbers between 2020 and 2022 has since reversed.

There has also been a close to nine per cent decrease from December 2022 to 2023. While there was a marginal increase in commencements in the December quarter (2.4 per cent), this is unlikely to overturn the trend.

ACCI recently submitted to the government’s 2024 Strategic Review of Apprenticeship Incentives.

We said that any reduction or removal of incentive payments to employers would have dire consequences, leading to decreased apprenticeship commencements, exacerbating skills shortages and impeding the nation’s long-term economic growth.

ACCI made several recommendations, including:

  • Direct any revenue the government receives from the Skilling Australians Fund levy to fund more apprenticeships and traineeships.
  • Postpone the planned reduction of incentives from July 2024 for one year to allow sufficient time to develop the next iteration of Australian Apprenticeship Incentives.
  • Create a five-year Job Creation Incentive program.

You can see all the recommendations by accessing ACCI’s submission here.

The latest data also highlights the fragile state of our apprenticeship system and the negative consequences substantial changes such as discontinuing the Boosting Apprenticeships Commencement can have on apprentice numbers. Discontinuing the program has added to our ongoing skills and labour shortage.

ACCI looks forward to working with the government to ensure our skilled workforce is appropriately stabilised and has every opportunity to grow and thrive.

Ashley Gardiner

Director - Media and Communications

P: 0262708020

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