Apprentice and trainee numbers continue to decline in Australia

The National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) has released the latest figures on apprentice and trainee numbers in the June 2016 quarter. The report highlights that there were 282,900 apprentice and trainees in-training as at 30 June 2016, a decrease of 7.8% compared with the same period last year. This represents a continuation of the long-term decline of the numbers of apprentices and trainees in-training and the lowest for a decade.

In the 12 months ending 30 June 2016, compared with the 12 months ending 30 June 2015:

  • commencements decreased by 8.4% to 168,800; and
  • completions decreased by 16.3% to 107,900.

The graph below shows the trades and non-trades commencements from June 2006 to September 2016. The data highlights that there has been a continuing decrease in both trade and non-trade apprentices. In relation to the series of trade commencements there have now been six consecutive quarters of decline. This suggests that the downturn in commencements is not just seasonal and is becoming a long-term trend.


Ai Group is increasingly concerned about the demise of this highly valued training pathway and is consistently advocating for a range of measures to address this decline.

What are your experiences in regard to apprentices and trainees? Are you experiencing this decline in your business? What are your apprenticeship plans for 2017?

Read the full report here.



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Michael Taylor is Ai Group’s National Policy and Projects Manager, Education and Training. He is responsible for a number of national projects across workplace literacy and numeracy, skills, and the management of a mature age workforce. Michael also contributes to policy formulation across a wide spectrum of education, training and skills.

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