The Australian Industry Group has released an urgent plan aimed at stemming an alarming drop in apprenticeship numbers.

AiGroup Chief Executive Innes Willox has urged major political parties to adopt the plan to “to address this dire situation.”

“Apprentices provide vital skills to key parts of our economy,” Mr Willox said. 

“Without urgent and meaningful intervention, the apprenticeship system in Australia will continue to underperform and fail to deliver for business and the community.”

The new Ai Group policy, Making Apprenticeships Work, demonstrates that the Australian Apprenticeships system is racked with national inconsistency. 

According to AiGroup the proportion of Australian workers employed as an apprentice or trainee has fallen to a “worryingly low” 2.7 per cent of total employment. 

This is reflected in the fact that apprentices now only make up 9.7 per cent of all those engaged in the entire Vocational Education and Training (VET) system.

“Disappointingly, there persists a lack of commitment to implementing competency based progression and completion as well as minimal support for pathways to Australian Apprenticeships such as pre-apprenticeships,” said Mr Willox.

“With the Federal Election looming, it is critically important that the Government and opposition parties ensure that fixing our failing apprenticeship system is put at the top of their election platforms,” Mr Willox said.

“A key challenge for Government is addressing these inconsistencies in the system and a commitment to facilitate greater engagement by industry and young people in this vital training pathway. 

“We need to find ways to improve and spread this work-based pathway into other industry and occupation areas and to encourage young people to consider an apprenticeship as a viable career option.”

AiGroup is urging administrators to adopt the following recommendations:

·       Establish a national industry-led body to drive Australian Apprenticeships policy and implementation;

·       Implement employer incentives for those not engaged in Australian Apprenticeships and for those who undertake STEM-related apprenticeships and traineeships;

·       Reinstate the Joint Group Training Program funding to support first-time employers of apprentices and support small-to-medium enterprises to boost completions;

·       Investigate and trial measures that link Australian Apprenticeships to higher level qualifications in the VET and Higher Education sectors;

·       Investigate and trial the potential of introducing ‘higher apprenticeships’ models into a wider range of industries and occupations including para-professional occupations;

·       Develop and implement a national communications strategy to facilitate widespread implementation of competency based progression and completion

·       Clearly define and support pre-apprenticeships as a viable pathway to engage more young people in Australian Apprenticeships and

·       Develop measures to support School-based Apprenticeships as a key platform in the expansion of Australian Apprenticeships to young people.

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