Momentum towards apprenticeships expansion and improvement
The Jobs and Skills Summit aimed to promote discussion across many areas of our economy, from how to meet our future workforce skills needs and our productivity, to the desire for increased participation and equity for groups including women and people with a disability.
This meant apprenticeships would always be part of the conversation. As a critical channel for skilling Australians in areas of skills need, as well as providing pathways to meaningful careers, the apprenticeship model will be a big part of our skills success into the future.
Calls to support the resurgence in apprenticeships
The importance of apprenticeships was affirmed by the ACTU, Ai Group, ACCI and the BCA, who released a Statement on Common Interests on Skills and Training ahead of the Jobs Summit. It pushed further apprenticeship support to the centre of the conversation.
“Additional support through the pandemic boosted commencements of apprenticeships and traineeships and it is vital that we maintain and build on this momentum, and translate the rise in new commencements into a sustained uplift in completions,” the paper read.
The system ‘has struggled to maintain consistent growth and combat falling completion rates over the last decade’, the groups argue. “An increase in funding for apprenticeships and traineeships is warranted, with support for the employer and employee.”
The statement suggested support should be provided across all occupations, as the apprenticeship model is an effective way to deliver real world skills while providing an initial foothold into rewarding long-term careers, particularly for inexperienced young people.
It argued for support from the October 2022 Budget to shore up commencements and completions. It said increased wage subsidies - especially in the first year - and employer and apprentices incentive completion payments and mentoring programs could help.
The apprentice model and the Jobs and Skills Summit
The outcomes of the Jobs Summit did not include new significant additional funding promises for apprenticeships, but they did include important moves to utilise the apprenticeship model within new industries - namely the digital and tech industry, which is facing skills shortages.
This is an interesting and important step. It acknowledges that, while a higher education will no doubt support many professionals entering industries like technology (with capacities like problem solving and critical thinking), in many cases tech is also a skills industry.
This has in the past been acknowledged even by companies like Google, which have already adjusted their hiring practices to remove the requirement for having a higher education qualification. It is a triumph of real skills over previous conception of what was required.
The Government committed to:
- Implementing a ‘Digital and Tech Skills Compact’ with business and unions, to deliver ‘Digital Apprenticeships’ that will support workers to earn while they learn in entry level tech roles, with in-built equity targets for under-represented groups.
- Delivering 1,000 digital traineeships in the Australian Public Service over four years, with a focus on providing new opportunities for women, First Nations people, older Australians, and veterans transitioning to civilian life.
Focusing on the future
Attention will continue to be placed on the apprenticeships market, and how it should or can adapt to ensure it continues to be both world-leading, and providing outcomes for both industry and individuals in the workforce that support our community and economy.
For example, one of the Government’s identified areas of further work included exploring options to improve the apprenticeship support system and drive-up completions. There are also a lot of new experimental ideas about what apprenticeships should or could be.
Completions are a fundamental and continued problem, with much attention being placed on the difficulty apprentices face in getting through their extended apprenticeship. The problems are well known, including financial and workplace issues, just to name two.
This is one reason why ReadyTech has invested in innovative data analytics to support greater understanding of the risk factors facing our apprentices. We are understanding more and more deeply the problems we face – and how to combat them together.