With many secondary school students heading straight into the workforce or University, apprenticeship numbers—both the uptake and completion—have seen a steady decline in recent years. This drop is being felt by construction companies across the country, with several different trades already experiencing a skills shortage.
According to a report by the Department of Jobs and Small Business, the number of vacancies filled in 2018 fell to a historically low level. Two in five employers failed to attract any suitable applicants.
With skill shortage being a real problem for the construction industry, WorldSkills Australia’s Try’aSkill program is encouraging people to consider a career in the trades from an early stage. Through Try’aSkill, secondary school students have the opportunity to get a hands-on experience in a range of trades.
To meet the significant construction demands of the future, we need to encourage more apprentices to enter and thrive in the profession.
Hosted by industry professionals, participants are able to meet and talk with various trade experts, apprentices, VET teachers, and local industry networks.
Moreover, kids can try their hand in a range of projects. These might include anything from changing a leaking tap (plumbing), making a garden chair (carpentry), or potting and budding plants (horticulture).
Try’aSkill is a great opportunity for businesses as well. By becoming a skills coach, you have the opportunity to showcase your industry to the future workforce. You get to talk to these kids directly about what you do, how they can get into your industry, and the perks of being employed in your trade. You may even find a future apprentice!
The program aims to provide a starting point for thousands of young Australians every year.
As a not-for-profit organisation, WordSkills Australia relies heavily on the support of volunteers along with Industry and Government funding.
Jobsite ANZ spoke to Alex Haughton, Partnerships and Brand Manager, at WorldSkills Australia:
“Continued support from the Government and industry is imperative to attract and shape the next generation of skilled apprentices. To meet the significant construction demands of the future, we need to encourage more apprentices to enter and thrive in the profession.
WorldSkills Australia, and industry partners, create ambassadors for the construction industry, properly informing other students who are interested in doing an apprenticeship and most importantly others who haven’t considered a skills-focused career yet and now might want to do so. The showcase of excellence through WorldSkills Australia skill competitions helps to highlight the skill and talent needed to do an apprenticeship and gives Vocational Education and Training the voice it deserves across Australia.”
In December, Minister for Small and Family Business, Skills and Vocational Education, Senator Michaelia Cash released a media statement confirming the Government will continue to invest in VET and Apprenticeship sectors to support the skills needs of Australian job seekers, employers, and the industry.
They have promised $5.4 million to support the work of WorldSkills Australia, which also means support for the Try’aSkill program.
“WorldSkills Australia is a respected organisation that works to provide opportunities for many thousands of Australians each year to benchmark their skills through regional, national and international competitions to ‘have a go’ at a range of trade and skill based careers through their Try’aSkill activities,” Minister Cash said.
“Our funding commitment, approximately $1.2 million each year, will provide WorldSkills Australia with a sustainable funding base so they can focus on their great work to promote and build a skills culture in Australia, and help showcase excellence in Australian VET.”
The coalition has also put forward investment in several other initiatives to help mitigate the skill shortage in Australia. This includes:
- $3.9 million to the Tasmanian Government’s North-West Tasmania Job Ready Generation Package.
- $750,000 to support the establishment of the Advanced Welding Training Centre in Caboolture (QLD).
The $750,000 pledge will aid Weld Australia to establish an Advanced Welding Training Centre in Queensland. Weld Australia will purchase ten state-of-the-art Augmented Reality Welding Simulators, providing skills vital in securing jobs in rolling stock, defence, and infrastructure projects.
Minister Cash said projects like these provide real outcomes and strong pathways to jobs in areas of skills needs, something particularly important in regional Australian communities.