WA is at growing risk of a skills shortage if the decline in apprenticeships and traineeships isn’t resolved as a priority, according to CCI CEO Chris Rodwell.
Research released this week by the National Centre for Vocational Education Research reveals 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 has also continued to decline – down 3.2 per cent over the same period, while completions were down 4.2 per cent.
The construction industry is feeling the brunt of this decline, with apprenticeship and traineeship commencements down 12.4 per cent.
Automotive and engineering trade commencements were up 33.8 per cent, which could be attributed to a slowly strengthening resources sector.
Rodwell says existing worker commencements suffered the biggest hit, following the WA State Government’s removal of the payroll tax exemption for existing trainees, declining 24 per cent.
“CCI raised serious concerns that removing the payroll tax exemption for existing employees would result in a sharp decline in existing worker commencements, which is now clearly evident in these results,” he says.
Apprenticeship Support Australia, which is delivered by CCI, has identified that in the first half of 2018 – a month after the policy was changed – traineeships for existing workers in WA fell by 44.4 per cent compared with the same period last year.
“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,” Rodwell says.
“CCI urges the WA State Government and Federal Government to finalise their Skilling Australians Fund negotiations with the Federal Government to help incentivise employers to utilise apprenticeships and traineeships.
“In addition, we encourage the State Government to prioritise its proposed Grants Scheme industry consultation.”