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Political, Union

Electrical Trades Union

ETU 2 mins read

Apprenticeship review must focus on mentoring, wages to lift abysmal completion rate

The Federal Government’s review of apprenticeships must consider how rock bottom wages and the complete absence of industry based mentoring contribute to four in ten electricians not completing their training, jeopardising the clean energy transition.

Australia needs an additional 32,000 electricians by 2030, and another 85,000 by 2050, according to Jobs and Skills Australia. However the current apprenticeship system is failing. Electrical completions are approximately 59 per cent whilst trade training in general is only 42.2 per cent.

Apprentice incomes are below minimum wage, a problem that has become more acute through the cost of living crisis. The Government is also squandering close to $300 million per year spent on ineffective, non-industry based mentoring, through the discredited Australian Apprenticeship Support Networks system. 

ETU National Secretary, Michael Wright, said a complete overhaul was necessary.

“"The rapid transition to renewable energy sources is creating a worldwide surge in demand for electricians. It simply won’t work to rely on the same lazy solution of importing temporary skilled migrants.

“We need a robust, well resourced, industry-led training effort and it needs to start immediately. Apprentices need to be supported at every step of their time, we can’t afford for anyone to be slipping through the cracks. 

"Rather than allocating funds to programs that fall short of expectations, it's crucial for the Government to collaborate closely with people who are actively involved in energy.

"The current Government inherited a complete mess from its predecessor but this review can not afford to cast backwards. It needs to delve immediately into how we design an apprenticeship system that lifts completions. Industry knowledge and higher wages must be at the centre of this review. 

"There is a pressing requirement to reinvigorate vocational education, broaden the scope of TAFE, and enhance the appeal of teaching within the sector.

"This review is an enormous opportunity to begin building the workforce of the next twenty years.If we get this right in the energy sector, we not only bridge the existing skills gap but also open the door to rewarding and high-paying career paths for countless Australians.

"Rekindling a strong training ethos is our pathway to establishing ourselves as a leading force in the energy arena. This review must succeed if Australia is to have any hope of meeting its carbon emission targets."

For further information, please contact: Nick Lucchinelli 0422 229 032

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