Home' Border Enterprise : Enterprise Spring-Summer 2009 Contents 37
ON October 16, the Federal
Government announced an
extra $3350 would be given
to employers who took on an
apprentice, in a skill shortage
trade, between December 2009 and February
2010. Combined with existing employer incentive
incentives (Commencement $1500, Rural Skill
Shortage $1000 and completion $2500) the total
incentives to hire a new 16-19 year old apprentice
in the next few months could be up to $8350.
In May this year the Government tried to combat
the large number of apprentices being laid off
by offering an extra $2800 to any employer who
could give an out of work apprentice a second
chance at completing their trade qualification.
Add this to the existing incentives already offered
for recommencing an apprentice ($750, and
completing them $2500, as above), this brings to
$5950 the total incentives on offer for finishing the
job started by another tradesman.
Finally, over the past three years the Government
started to offer $3800 in extra payments to the
apprentices themselves if they took on a skill
shortage trade. Then the Victorian Government
threw in $500 for trade apprentices and the
NSW Government $200. They further allowed
registration rebates, travel assistance and payroll
tax relief to employers.
All this money has been made available in an
effort to solve the skill shortage problem.
Why then is Australian Industry still facing these
The latest survey by international employment
services specialist Clarius Group analyses the
shortages and over-supply of skilled labour in 19
Australian employment categories.
The Clarius Skills Index shows that the only trade
to move from the top 10 shortages is in wood-
related industries --- and this is more than likely a
result of the global financial crisis rather than any
influx of new tradesmen.
Chefs, hairdressers and job categories in the
metals, automotive and building trades are all still
facing considerable shortages.
Cheryl Arnott suggests it may not just be about
Ms Arnott is the area manager of Australian
Industry Group Training Services for the Riverina
and Hume region and is also a franchised agent
for MAS National Apprenticeship Centres. The
roles provide her with a significant insight into
the thoughts and motivations behind employers'
decisions to recruit apprentices. It also allows her
an opportunity to counsel and care for a wide
variety of 16-25 year olds as they look at their
career options and taking up a skilled trade.
"One thing is very clear," says Ms Arnott.
"The money is nice, but it is not what makes a
successful apprenticeship. Gone are the days
when hiring an apprentice was just a cheap labour
option. It takes effort by the individual to combine
work and study, but it also takes significant effort
by the employer and his staff to ensure that
the apprentice's needs are met, along with the
"When we add to the equation the higher level
of apprentice administration needs, industrial
relations changes and the introduction of a whole
new range of training options and fast-tracked
qualifications, many employers appear to be giving
up all together."
Ms Arnott's recent interviews with employers
locally reveal that a number of them, large and
small, will not consider apprentice recruitment in
2010 --- not because of a downturn in business
--- but because it all appears too hard.
Some typical employer quotes she hears are:
"Young people today don't know how to work".
"In my day apprentices did four years --- the first
year on the broom --- now they can finish in three
years and still not know how to use a broom".
"I don't agree with fast tracking apprentices,
so I won't put any on. It's an industrial relations
nightmare we cannot afford".
"I've put hours into training apprentices and they
just get up and go when the next best offer comes
along. There's no loyalty anymore".
And from the apprentices:
"It's not what I expected at all".
"My supervisor doesn't like me".
"I don't understand what my boss really wants
--- he is never happy".
"The other apprentices at TAFE get to use
machinery and make a real contribution to the
workplace. I'm still sanding the table tops and
sweeping the floor".
"Clearly there is a big gap in expectations and
possibly some misconceptions on how we should
be dealing with the recruitment and training of
apprentices," Ms Arnott says.
"Employers need to understand that Generation Y
may not be perfect --- but what is the alternative?
"Is it practical for you to keep working into
your 80s and watch your trade die because you
couldn't find the perfect apprentice?"
Young people and their parents may also need to
look a bit closer at why these jobs are not meeting
their expectations and perhaps gain a better
understanding the needs of today's employers.
"I once asked a high profile local business identity
to tell me what he was looking for in his next
apprentice," Ms Arnott says. "You know," he said,
"I just want someone who can show up on time
and smile. The rest I can teach them. Is that too
much to ask"?
"The generation gap is nothing new. Sometimes
we all just need some simple direction and
some new tools to change our attitudes and
expectations," Ms Arnott says.
"Perhaps employers can use the extra
government funding to take the apprentice out to
Bunnings and let them choose their own broom
--- metaphorically speaking, of course."
For advice on apprenticeships and recruitment
tips call Cheryl Arnott on 0418 605 107.
Why it's worth the effort to train more apprentices
DON'T LET YOUR
Third year engineering apprentice with Rural Hydraulics, Ryley Dalton, and
Australian Industry Group Training Services area manager, Cheryl Arnott.
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