James Tinslay, CEO at NECA, is very concerned at the drop in electrical apprenticeships currently being offered.
"Apprentice training is the lifeblood of not just the electrical contracting industry - but almost all trade- and service-based industries in Australia. Without this structured training Australia will soon experience a severe shortage in skilled labour across our communities."
NECA employs over 2,000 apprentices through its group training companies. And whilst NECA numbers have not dropped significantly this year, this overall drop of around 14% across our industry is an indication of the trend for smaller businesses to be reticent about investing in the future.
"We can understand the concerns many small business have given the current low levels of building activity. But unless the unions, and the government, pull back on their push to increase the apprentice wage and conditions this situation is only going to get worse," he adds.
The apprenticeship model integrates structured training with on-the-job work experience and is the best form of skills development for our industry. What's more, wages are not the key to attracting more apprentices and so adding to the cost actually flies in the face of the Government's claims to be encouraging smaller businesses to grow.