Apprentice numbers, especially those in the construction industry, are way down – 45% since 2012 (recognised in the Queensland Government’s annual budget), with only 7800 people started a registered apprenticeship in the year to December 2016.

Why do you think that is? Aren’t we still hearing the stories about tradesmen earning the big bucks? Surely that’s enough to get the kids excited…Or is it like a lot of things these days, we’re too keen for the quick buck and the easy fix?

Only last month, research from Skilling Australia Foundation and McCrindle Research showed that Vocational Education and Training (VET) graduates earned a median full-time income $2000 more than their Bachelor degree counterparts in their first year out of training. So after 3 or 4 years of potentially earning less than their counterparts in either full-time work, or work and university, they’re on top, financially.

It could be a lifestyle problem. Anecdotally, we know that for some trades who start work in construction at 6:30am in Brisbane, beating the traffic means they have to leave home at 5:30am (or earlier!). If you need tools, then public transport isn’t a suitable option.

On the flip side, as an employer, taking on an apprentice also comes with its share of risks and complications:

  • Ensuring they’re paid correctly can be complicated, especially in the building and construction industry;
  • Workplace Health and Safety issues can arise, from unfamiliarity with the tools and environment they’re working in;
  • Initially, productivity can drop, while teaching a new apprentice what to do; plus
  • You need to find a Registered Training Organisation (RTO) to work with to formalise the training.

This is more than just a Queensland challenge; the drop in apprenticeships is happening across the country; and will take more than just some financial incentives to fix. Have you got a story about hiring (or not hiring) apprentices? Are you someone who’s looking for an apprenticeship? We’d love to hear your story!