ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics) 2000, Australian social trends, 2000, cat.no.4102.0, ABS, Canberra, viewed October 2016, <http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/2f762f95845417aeca25706c00834efa/
— —2011, Australian social trends, March 2011, cat.no.4102.0, ABS, Canberra, viewed October 2016, .
Bednarz, A 2014, Understanding the non-completion of apprentices, NCVER, Adelaide, viewed October 2016, >.
Debra Wilson Consulting Services 2004, Final report, investigation Into apprentices in the building and construction industry in Queensland ‘matching supply and demand with results’, Brisbane.
Furniture Industry Association of Australia 2013, Summary decision from Fair Work Commission on Apprentices’ minimum wage increase, 22 August 2013, viewed October 2016, news/68/summary_decision_from_fairwork_commission_on_apprentices_minimum_wage_increase>.
Karmel, T & Oliver, D 2011, Pre-apprenticeships and their impact on apprenticeship completion and satisfaction, NCVER, Adelaide, viewed October 2016, .
Karmel, T & Roberts, D 2012, The role of ‘culture’ in apprenticeship completions, NCVER, Adelaide, viewed October 2016, .
Mitchell, J, Dobbs, G & Ward, J 2008, A systematic approach to retaining apprentices, ACCI, viewed October 2016, .
NCVER (National Centre for Vocational Education Research) 2015, Completion and attrition rates for apprentices and trainees 2015, NCVER, Adelaide, viewed October 2016, __data/assets/pdf_file/0024/60495/Completion-and-attrition-rates-2015-2881.pdf>.
— —2016, Apprentices and trainees 2016 – March quarter (released 5 September 2016), NCVER, Adelaide, viewed October 2016, .
Pfeifer, H 2016, Firms’ motivation for training apprentices: an Australian-German comparison, NCVER, Adelaide, viewed October 2016, .Queensland Department of Education and Training 2015a, Length of apprenticeships and traineeships ATIS-09, 2015, DET, Brisbane, viewed October 2016, .
— —2015b, ‘Queensland Government Building and Construction Training Policy’, DET, Brisbane, viewed October 2016, .
The views and opinions expressed in this essay are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Government, state and territory governments or NCVER.
Appendix 3: Questions guiding group discussion
Session 1: Benefits and value
Is the time right to re-frame the apprenticeship system from what is seen as predominantly a work-based learning approach in trades training, and broaden it to include models such as higher level trade apprenticeships and degree /professional apprenticeships in higher education? If so, how?
Megan’s essay distinguishes between the apprenticeship model and the apprenticeship system. What is it about the apprenticeship model that works well? Is there anything about the current Apprenticeship system that needs to change to ensure the overall model remains relevant?
How can third party intermediaries help to innovate the apprenticeship model and play a greater role to increase the supply of employers and apprentices?
What hinders employer engagement in the apprenticeship system? How can we better promote to employers the benefits and value of apprenticeships for ’their companies, in order to increase their engagement?
Should the Australian system aspire to any of the ideals outlined in the UK ‘Post-16 Skills Plan’ Reforms?*
*For context – The UK ‘Post-16 Skills Plan’ reforms include:
introducing a common framework of 15 occupational groupings, which have shared training requirements for both technical knowledge and practical skills
delivering a ‘common core’ of transferable skills to all individuals studying in a particular occupational grouping, followed by specialisation towards a skilled occupation, to allow for greater flexibility in the emerging job market/workforce
offering up to 12-months of tailored and flexible support (a ‘transition year’) to young people and to other ‘at risk’ groups, in order to increase access and retention, across all sectors, to degree level
creating parallel ‘technical’ and ‘academic’ learning options, leading to the highest levels of study; and offering flexibility through bridging courses to allow movement between the two
introducing end point assessment, which covers both theoretical and practical elements
maintaining the relationship between employer and apprentice as the core, and ensuring that employers remain at the heart of design and delivery, with employers (supported by education experts) setting the standards required in technical education
creating new ‘National Colleges’ to lead the design and delivery of technical skills training in five key industry sectors (nuclear, digital skills, high-speed rail, onshore oil and gas, and the creative and cultural industries); and
establishing an independent, employer-led body to regulate the quality of apprenticeships at a national-level (the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education).
What needs to change about the apprenticeships model to equip people for jobs and trades that are evolving rapidly and will continue changing? How can this be balanced against the importance of 'training for today’?
If apprenticeships were abolished tomorrow, what would be the impact on current or future skills in the Australian workforce? What would you replace apprenticeships with, and what features would you keep (if any)?
Session 2: Attraction
Research continues to show that parents remain the number one influencer in the career decision making process of their children. How do we make apprenticeships a valued and valuable proposition in the eyes of the influencer (in this case, the parents), as well as an attractive choice to all young people (including non-traditional trade apprentices like women and people with disability)?
School-based apprenticeships and pre-apprenticeships offer valuable workplace exposure for prospective-students and an opportunity for individuals to ‘try before they buy’, prior to committing to/commencing a full apprenticeship. What are the key features of pre-apprenticeship programs that are working well for students and what should be done to increase their attractiveness and accessibility?
How do we best support career advisors, to improve young people’s understanding and attraction to Apprenticeships? What kinds of information do they need in order to effectively guide prospective students to an apprenticeship pathway (where appropriate)? We know an abundance of information exists – So what is the barrier?
Access to good information is important to ensure people make informed choices. What strategies are needed to make it clear what Apprenticeships offer, why they are attractive, and how they differ from other career paths available? What effective strategies currently exist? How can we expand on these examples?
In his essay, David raises the importance of employers providing opportunities for individuals to experience the workplace and industry prior to making a decision to commence an apprenticeship. What actions can we take to engage employers in this role and to support them to develop a meaningful workplace experience for prospective students? What do employers need to feel supported and confident in this role?
Attention is often focused on the school-leaver. But what is required to attract those taking on an Apprenticeship mid-career? What would motivate an experienced worker to take on a competency-based Apprenticeship?
Increasing the supply of students into the apprenticeship system is essential, including attracting new entrants and individuals from less represented groups. How can we grow the apprentice supply pipeline?
Session 3: Retention and completion
What actions could governments, industry and employers and the training community take together, in order to increase retention and completion? And how could these be implemented?
Building on the examples in Alan’s paper, along with knowledge amongst your group, what other examples do you have of successes in retention and completion of apprentices and how can these be replicated more broadly?
Besides World Skills; and State and National Training Awards, what other programs/strategies could be implemented to promote the benefits of completing an apprenticeship, in order to retain students at risk of dropping out? And who should be responsible?
There is a wealth of information available, based on research and reviews, about strategies that work to increase retention and completion. What can be done to pull the threads of successful approaches together to inform a comprehensive implementation of good practice?
Some have suggested that Australia adopt a more ‘European’ approach to apprentice training – By offering large amounts of institutionalised trade-training, interspersed with periods of work experience. How workable are these strategies in the Australian context? Are there more effective local models?
Alan makes the point that retaining apprentices to completion is not ‘rocket science’ and he outlines the holistic approach adopted by Hutchison. What can be done to engage other employers to adopt this proven model?
How hard would it be to consistently implement across a range of industries, the Attract, Train, Retain and Sustain strategies discussed in Alan’s Essay?
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1 Source: NCVER 2016, Completion and attrition rates for apprentices and trainees — 2015, NCVER, Adelaide. Available from .
2 Traineeships were added to the mix in 1985. While the employment model is the same, traineeships tend to be in different occupations not identified as ‘trades’, in different parts of the economy and of lesser duration. In some economies, traineeships are considered to be preparation for an apprenticeship. For the purposes of this essay, the focus will be on apprenticeships.
3 The example is taken from the University of Applied Science in Munich, .
4 The concepts of structured workplace learning (SWL) and work experience (WE) are often used interchangeably. However, we would define SWL as WE (i.e. experiencing the work environment) along with a clear agenda of what skills have to be mastered on the job, skills that will contribute to a particular competency or course/qualification outcome.
5 Hutchinson Builders were the recipient of the Australian Training Awards-Employer of the Year in 2011.