New data shows apprentice and trainee commencements were down 11.0 per cent (to 49, 015) in the March quarter 2020 compared with the same quarter in 2019.

The NCVER figures for the March quarter show that overall there were 272, 505 apprentices and trainees in-training as at March 31, 2020, down 2.9 per cent from March 31, 2019.

NCVER managing director, Simon Walker, said that while the underlying March quarter data shows some early indicators of COVID-19’s impact (particularly in the month of March), the real impact will not show until the June quarter.

“Numbers of those commencing apprenticeships or traineeships in trade occupations were down 9.8 per cent in the March quarter 2020, with the biggest decreases seen in food trades, down 20.4 per cent, and construction trades down 13 per cent,” he said.

“Despite this completions in trade occupations showed a small increase, up 1.9 per cent compared with the same quarter in 2019.”

NCVER yesterday released a report examining international approaches to rationalising vocational education and training (VET) qualifications.

The report proposes reorganising Australian VET qualifications into occupational or vocational clusters which will provide more career mobility for learners and more workers for industry in times of demand.

Walker said that internationally, many qualification structures have been changed to include sets of core capabilities, such as language, literacy and numeracy, technical skills relevant to related clusters of occupations, and further specialisation through optional units.

“This approach has not only significantly reduced the number of VET qualifications in many countries, it allows them to be broader, more flexible, and more responsive to the changing needs of learners and industry,” he said.

A 2016 NCVER analysis shows that of the 1600 qualifications currently in use in Australia, around 85 per cent of enrolments were in 200 qualifications only, and that 336 qualifications had zero enrolments in 2015.


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