Ms Ley, whose portfolio includes vocational education and training in schools (VETiS), said just 4 per cent* of 15-to-19 year olds in Queensland were enrolled in school-based apprenticeships.
This is despite a range of skills shortages in the state, including gasfitters, plasterers, plumbers, bricklayers, concreters, electricians and carpenters**.
However, the problem is not unique to Queensland, who were performing at almost triple the national average (1.5 per cent) and delivering more-than half the nation’s places.
Ms Ley said she was “on a mission” to revive a national interest in trades as a first-choice career for school-students and she was therefore keen to talk with the national leader, particularly in light of the Newman Government’s recent efforts to forge better links between VET and industry.
“It’s no secret we need more tradies in this country. Yet the current national VETiS framework, which is meant to be delivering our next generation of tradies, hasn’t been updated in a decade.
“The result - we now have less students taking up trade apprenticeships at school than back in 2008 in this country.
“Our kids need the freedom and support at school to choose a career in the trades without being made to feel like they’re playing on the ‘B team’ for not deciding to go uni.
“Unfortunately Labor was so preoccupied with big spending promises of flashy new buildings they failed to see the real focus needs to be on the quality of career advice, training and real-life work experience being offered to our kids.”
Ms Ley said today’s Queensland roundtable would bring together leaders from education, industry, training and government and follows the success of her national roundtable in February.
“This is no different to building a house - you have to understand the lay of the land before you can build a solid framework,” she said.
Ms Ley said the core of today’s agenda was focussed around the need for stronger links between schools, employers and trainers, with the role career guidance also to be discussed.
(See Below – Key Qld and National facts & figures, Quotes from Hutchinson Builders).
Ms Ley said attendees at today’s roundtable included Queensland-icon Hutchinson Builders, who runs an award-winning training program giving school students the real-life training and experience needed to pursue a successful career in the construction trades.
Hutchinson National Training Manager Alan Waldron said the company’s training facilities in Yatala and Toowoomba currently linked with over 15 public and private secondary schools to encourage students considering a trade to pursue the opportunity while still studying.
Mr Waldron said that with looming skills shortages and apprenticeship cancellation rates at over 40 percent, Hutchinson saw the program as an investment in the future, not only for their company, but their subcontractors as well.
“Over the past six years, with funding support from Construction Skills Queensland, our strategy to recruit apprentices from our pre-trade program has all but eliminated apprentice cancellations for us (just 2%),” he said.
“It’s also given us a group of future leaders who will make up our target of 15% of total workforce as apprentices and cadets.”