Group training organisations might be finding it hard to fill vacancies, but NSW government figures show that the number of traineeships on offer from employers has declined markedly in recent years.
At the height of the recent boom in private sector vocational education and training, or VET, some 70,000 applications for traineeships were approved by the NSW Department of Industry.
In 2016, according to annual records kept by Training Services NSW, this number had fallen to just over 27,000, a substantial decline.
By contrast, the numbers of traditional indentured apprenticeships has remained remarkably steady over the past decade, with a slight uptick in approvals in 2016 to just under 22,000.
Debate over the number of jobs available for apprentices and trainees was triggered last week when the long-established Hunter Valley Training Company (HVTC) joined with the state’s peak body for group training organisations to say there was a statewide shortage of applicants for apprenticeships and traineeships.
Jason Sultana, executive officer from the Apprentice Employment Network NSW ACT said parents often wanted their children to go to university regardless of job outcomes.
“Indications are that the current generation of school leavers don’t understand the long-term benefits of completing an apprenticeship or traineeship,” Mr Sultana said.
HVTC marketing manager Caroline Dando said the organisation’s apprentice and trainee enrolments had fallen from 1100 in 2013 to about 600 at present. If it filled its 100-plus vacancies enrolments would rise to more than 700.
“HVTC’s experience is in line with a 40 per cent drop in apprentice and trainee numbers across the VET industry, both nationally and state-wide, over the past four years,” Ms Dando said.
Ms Dando said there had been a substantial shift in the average age of people seeking apprenticeships and traineeships.
“A decade ago the average was 16-year-old school leavers and now it would be around 24 years of age,” Ms Dando said.
“This may reflect the fact that people are being encouraged to do Year 12 and university. We often find that older apprentices have started university then decided it’s not for them so they apply for apprenticeship roles.”
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