New data released by the federal government shows Australia is in the midst of an apprenticeships boom with apprentice and trainee starts for the December quarter 2020 at a five-year high.

It is dramatically higher than the same quarter in 2019, pre-COVID.

The data, which was released this month, captures the first quarter of the government’s Boosting Apprenticeship Commencements wage subsidy.

It shows apprenticeship commencements for the December quarter 2020 increased by 141.5 per cent compared with the December quarter 2019 (October to December).

The total number of apprentices and trainees in-training was 297,920, an increase of 13.9 per cent from 31 December 2019.

Both trade and non-trade commencements increased from the December 2019 quarter by 123.5 per cent and 155.3 per cent respectively.

The largest absolute increase among trade occupations was in construction trade workers with numbers increasing by 4,510.

Among non-trade occupations, the largest increase was in clerical and administrative workers with an increase of 8,820.

The significant surge in apprenticeship commencements icontrasts with the experience of previous economic downturns in Australia.

The National Centre for Vocational Education Research previously found the apprenticeship and traineeship system experienced a considerable shock and sharp decline in commencements during the second half of 2008 and the first half of 2009 as a result of the Global Financial Crisis.

Minister for Employment, Workforce, Skills, Small and Family Business, Stuart Robert, said the figures cement the fact the federal government is securing Australia’s future workforce through supporting a new generation of apprentices.

“The Boosting Apprenticeship Commencements wage subsidy continues to act as a support for Australia’s workforce and is developing Australia’s next generation of tradies,’ Robert said.

‘With more people in work than before the pandemic, today’s apprenticeships data is another sign of the fundamental strength of the Australian economy under the Morrison Government.

‘Our jobs plan, outlined in the Federal Budget, is straightforward: protect jobs and connect people with jobs today, and upskill our workforce for the jobs of tomorrow. It is clear the plan is working.”



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