Australia will head into skills shortage unless there is a significant boost in skill training

The construction union has called for a mandatory quota of apprentices on each site, claiming that Australia will head into another skills shortage unless there is a significant boost in training.

Dave Noonan, the national head of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union, called on the Federal Government to mandate one apprentice for every four tradespeople on all government and private construction sites.

The State Labor party recently committed to enforcing minimum number of apprentices on government projects, with the amount of positions proportional to the value of the contract.

The CFMEU slammed the Federal Government’s proposed new internship program, in which unemployed young people could be paid $4 an hour at internships.

“Four dollars an hour doesn’t provide a future for anyone,” he said. “This is the worse version of the churn of unemployed people and the money would be better spent on providing quality training.” Mr Noonan said it would exploit young workers without providing them the kind of skills they could gain in an apprenticeship. He said a quota would also support employers who go to the effort of training people. “Employers who do train are often disadvantaged against contractors who don’t train, because they do all the hard work and get the apprentices through to their fourth year only to have them headhunted,” he said.

Mr Noonan rejected claims it would harm the sector by creating bottlenecks and red tape, saying the imminent skills shortage and the existing youth unemployment rate were more harmful to the economy. He claimed the government has pulled $1 billion from apprenticeship training schemes nationally in the past two years, fueling a 20 per cent drop in the number of apprenticeships in the past twelve months nationally.

Figures from the WA Department of Training show a big drop in overall apprenticeship since the boom. Just under 20,000 people people started a trainee-ship or apprenticeship in the 12 months to September 2015, compared with 26,986 in the same period of boom-time 2012.

But new figures released yesterday indicates that training in the construction trades is holding up well. There were 1760 building and construction apprenticeship commencements in WA in 2012, which increased to 2321 in 2015.

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