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Apprenticeship commencements decrease, but not in all areas

New data by the National Centre for Vocational Education Research shows that Australian Apprenticeship commencements have continued to decrease in the year ending June 2017, with 163,985 commencements. This was a 2.9% decline from the 12 months to June 2017. This decrease has predominantly been in trade apprenticeships, which decreased 6.3% from 2016. Non-trade apprenticeships and traineeships remained relatively stable, with a decrease of 0.1%.

Comparing trade and non-trade apprenticeships for males and females, shown in the graph below, we see that more females commence in non-trade apprenticeships, while males have higher commencements in trade apprenticeships. There is a large difference in the number of commencements in trade apprenticeships between males and females, however the gap has been slowly closing over the past 5 years.

Trade apprenticeships include areas such as plumbing, carpentry, electrical and hairdressing. The only female dominated trade is Hairdressing, while the others remain male dominated.

Trade and Non-trade commencements for Males and Females

Trade and Non-trade commencements for Males and Females

Trade commencements decreased for both male and female apprentices, to the lowest commencement levels in 5 years. Non-trade commencements decreased slightly for females, but increased slightly for males.

Australian School-based Apprenticeships (ASBA) are an important pathway from school to employment. ASBA students can still gain an ATAR and complete their senior secondary education, whilst studying towards a vocational qualification and gaining work experience. In longer apprenticeships the student may complete their apprenticeship post-school, but in shorter apprenticeships they might complete while they are still at school. An ASBA can be a pathway to full-time employment, higher level VET studies, or university.

In the year to June 2017, 23% of ASBA commencements were in trades, with the remaining 77% in non-trades. In the trades, ASBA commencements accounted for 6% of the total; in non-trades the ASBA commencements were 15% of the total.

For both the trades and non-trades, ASBA commencements had increased from 2016, however were lower than the 5 year peak in 2013. In non-ASBA commencements, there were decreases for both trade and non-trade apprenticeships which are now at a 5 year low.

Trade and Non-trade commencements for Australian School-based Apprentices

Trade and Non-trade commencements for Australian School-based Apprentices

Australian School-based Apprenticeships (ASBA) increased for both trade and non-trade commencements. Non-ASBA commencements decreased in both areas.

Traditionally, apprenticeships and traineeships have been considered a pathway into the workforce for young Australians. The youngest age group (15-19 years) includes Australian School-based Apprentices, but also other apprentices who have either left school to take up an apprenticeship or traineeship or who have started one soon after completing high school. In the year to June 2017, 55% of trade apprenticeship commencements and 41% of non-trade commencements were by 15-19 year old's.

For the youngest age group (15-19 year's old), commencements were relatively stable from June 2016 to 2017 in both trade and non-trade apprenticeships. There was a decrease in trade commencements for 20-24 year old's, and a slight decrease for this age group in non-trade commencements. For the 25 year's and over group, commencements decreased for both trades and non-trades, with the largest drop in trade apprenticeships.

Trade and Non-trade commencements by age groups

Trade and Non-trade commencements by age groups

There was little change in commencements for 15-19 year old's in both trade and non-trade apprenticeships. There was a slight decrease for 20-24 year old's, and larger decreases for 25 year's and above across both trade and non-trade apprenticeships.

More information about Apprentice and Trainee commencements, in-training, completions and withdrawals can be found on the National Center for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) website.

Data in this article are taken from the NCVER National Apprentice and Trainee Collection, June Quarter, 2017.

NCVER, National Apprentice and Trainee Collection, 2017

NCVER Publication