Understanding the reasons behind why Australian Apprentices aren’t completing their contracts is critical to improving retention rates.
NCVER figures for 2014 show completion rates for trade apprentices were as low as 46% for 2010 commencements, and are expected to decrease again to 41.4% for 2014 commencements.
Of the contracts that are cancelled, 60% of those are cancelled within the first 12 months of training. Contrary to popular perception, as few as 4.7% of cancelled apprentices cited low wages as their main reason for not completing their training. Instead, general dissatisfaction with the workplace or the work itself were far more common, with 10.2% stating they did not get along with their boss or other people at work, and 8.3% stating they did not like the type of work. NCVER have surmised that an increase in wages is unlikely to improve current retention rates as there are multiple factors causing low completion rates.
This information highlights the importance of improving education around the types of trades, what they involve, and what is expected from a first year before they commence their training. This starts in schools, with career advisers and VET coordinators ensuring the appropriate information is being passed onto students who express interest in trades. This continues during apprentice recruitment, ensuring there are effective pre-screening processes in place to make sure candidates who are put forward for apprenticeships are knowledgeable, committed and enthusiastic about their training. This also comes down to employers managing the expectations of their new apprentices, as well as mentoring, encouraging and supporting them through what can seem like a long and lonely tunnel.
MIGAS and other Group Training Organisations have the processes and resources in place to deliver on this support system. Through proven recruitment methods, one-on-one mentoring and the ability to rotate apprentices between employers on a national scale, we have the ability to support apprentices right through to completion.
Apprentices and trainees with a solid support system that allows for honest feedback and flexible working conditions may be the key to improving Australia’s apprentice completion rates. Ensuring your workplace has appropriate reporting methods in place to promote a trusting environment could encourage young apprentices to seek help instead of simply cancelling their contracts. Research has shown that young millennials expect mentoring, positive feedback and a strong support system in the workplace, something industry must adapt to.
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