The Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA (CCI) welcomes today’s announcement that the Western Australian State Government has signed up to the Commonwealth’s Skilling Australians Fund to help incentivise employers to utilise apprenticeships and traineeships. 

The latest National Centre for Vocational Education Research highlights that the number of WA trainees and apprentices in-training continues to fall, down 7.4 per cent in the year to March 2018 – more than six times the national change.

The number of apprentice and trainee commencements in WA have also continued to decline – down 3.2 per cent over the same period, while completions are down 4.2 per cent.

The Skilling Australians Fund encourages State Governments to work better with industry to increase apprenticeship and traineeship numbers. By prioritising input from industry, this will ensure that funding will be directed to where it is needed most.

Today’s announcement means that for first time since June 2017, WA will have certainty around the level of Commonwealth contribution to the VET sector. Industry does however remain in limbo, with the State Government yet to begin consultations on its employer incentive scheme.

It is critical that WA is adequately prepared for future economic growth, particularly in key sectors such as agribusiness, construction, defence, manufacturing, energy, resources and tourism.

CCI is particularly pleased the Government has recognised the need to support skills development in the community services sector, where we expect to see rapid growth as we see the impacts of an aging population and the newly rolled out National Disability Insurance Scheme.

Apprenticeships and traineeships are the mechanisms that are pivotal to upskill and retrain our workers, particularly as automation and AI become the norm. Allowing industry to connect with education and training providers is critical so that the theory they learn can be applied in today’s world of work and that of the future, not yesterday’s.

Currently,15 per cent of young people who want to work cannot find work in WA. Facilitating access to traineeships and apprenticeships can play a significant role in reducing youth unemployment and protecting our skilled workforce of the future.

To ensure the Government’s Employee Incentive Scheme is fit-for-purpose for industry, CCI recommends that it works in lock-step with industry to develop a scheme that:

  • reflects the skill requirements of various business and industry types;
  • acknowledges that skills requirements vary between regions in WA;
  • acknowledges the value of upskilling existing workers to stay at the cutting edge; and
  • is not unduly burdensome for businesses to access and utilise.

CCI urges the Government to progress its Employee Incentive Scheme consultations as a priority now that Skilling Australians Fund negotiations have been finalised.