Once again the job of air conditioning and refrigeration mechanic made the top list of trades experiencing a serious skills shortage in 2017.

Department of Employment figures show a critical shortage of air conditioning and refrigeration mechanics in most states across Australia.

But it isn't just the trade arena impacting the HVACR industry, it is a similar story for engineering.

Despite the huge demand for RAC technicians, figures from the Skilling Australia Foundations show that four in five Australian parents want their children to attend university, rather than undertake an apprenticeship.

The CEO of training organisation, TABMA Apprentices and Trainees, Colin Fitzpatrick, said that given the rising cost of a formal education, traineeships are a better option.

"We're unnecessarily setting up a generation with unrealistic job expectations and large student debt," he said.

Data released by find a tradie site found that tradies in high demand have been charging premium prices.

"There is good money to be made," according to ServiceSeeking CEO, Jeremy Levitt.

"With Australia in the midst of the worst tradie shortage in years, a gold mine opportunity has opened up for tradies to earn premium rates," he said.

"Figures released by the Mitchell Institute show that apprenticeships are now at their lowest since 2004."

It is a similar story in the engineering profession. University of NSW, education manager for the faculty of engineering,

Kimberly Burdett, said there are just not enough engineering graduates to meet domestic demand – and demand is high.

Every year for the past decade, an average of 18,000 new engineering positions need to be filled in Australia, but only 7,600 students graduate with bachelor-level engineering degrees from Australian universities.

"Demand from industry completely outstrips supply, and that demand is not slowing – in fact it has doubled in the past decade," according to UNSW Dean of Engineering, Mark Hoffman.

"The average starting salary for engineering graduates is higher for women than for men. Name another profession where that's the case."

The UNSW is aiming for 30 per cent female enrolments in engineering by 2020.


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