Finding jobs for out-of-trade apprentices and trainees

The pandemic is having a big impact on apprenticeship and traineeship numbers. Real-time data is hard to come by but one recent forecast by the Mitchell Institute was that currently enrolled apprentices/trainees would decline by approximately 20 per cent. With 260,000 in training at December 2019, that would represent 52,000 cancellations and suspensions as a result of the virus.

The Commonwealth Government and each state government are helping those apprentices and trainees who have lost their jobs to find new employers to recommence their training contracts. The Commonwealth has made financial incentives available for employers and there are registers established for apprentices and trainees to lodge their details and for employers to post job vacancies.

One example is the new Victorian Government service called the Retrenched Apprentices and Trainees Program. They are contacting every apprentice and trainee in the state and all of their employers via email and SMS to advise them of its availability.

Any apprentice or trainee who registers is referred to the project manager, the Apprenticeship Employment Network (AEN) for case management. AEN is the group training association and they are using specialist group training organisations to help place apprentices and trainees. Ai Group’s own GTO, the Ai Group Apprentice and Trainee Centre, is helping to place automotive and engineering apprentices.

As part of the service, AEN is also looking for job vacancies to help place apprentices and trainees. As of mid June, 212 people had registered with the program and 175 job vacancies had been listed. If you wish to register a job vacancy or discuss the service in more detail, visit

There are similar programs operating across the country.

Training Services NSW manages the Continuing Apprentices Placement Service.

The Queensland Government funds

Apprentice Employment Network SA runs the Skills Connect Register.

Western Australia manages an Out of Contract Register.

Skills Tasmania is managing a Rapid Response Skills Initiative.

There is also the Commonwealth-funded Apprentice and Trainee Re-engagement Register.

Most state governments are also allowing apprentices to continue with their TAFE training if their training contracts have been suspended or cancelled.

If an employer re-engages an out-of-trade apprentice or trainee, they should be eligible for the Supporting Apprentices and Trainees program, which pays half the wages of apprentices and trainees from 1 January 2020 to 30 September 2020.

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Peter Canavan is a senior policy officer at Ai Group, contributing to education and training policy and managing projects including the Industry 4.0 Higher Apprenticeship project. He has previously managed national projects relating to apprenticeships. Peter has over 25 years experience in the vocational training sector, and has also managed projects for the Victorian Government, including apprenticeship projects and projects supporting workers retrenched from the automotive manufacturing sector.

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