For many young people an apprenticeship or a traineeship is the first rung on their employment ladder, helping them to make the transition out of the school system and giving them the skills they need to develop a career. Those young people rely on employers willing to provide the structured learning and real work-based experience they need.
But in recent years the number of opportunities has fallen sharply – four years ago there were 516,000 people undertaking apprenticeships and traineeships, but that number has fallen to just 295,000. The major reason for the decline is that changes to government incentives have made it a lot less affordable for employers to take them on.
Governments have long pledged their support for apprentices and trainees, but words are not enough. Australia needs a government willing to commit to the long-term future of young people by improving the business case for employers to take on apprentices and trainees. This is essential to reversing the decline.
A strong apprenticeships and traineeships system ensures our workforce has the skills it needs for the jobs of the future. It also ensures that young people, particularly from disadvantaged backgrounds, develop an attachment to the world of work so they are more likely to be able to support themselves later in life.