5 ways to increase construction apprenticeship completion rates

August 18 2015   10 AM  

Last week a report was released detailing an over 30% amount drop since 2011 in the numbers of currently enrolled construction trades training and apprenticeships, and a warning of a shortage of 300,000 tradies over the next decade as a potential consequence. This poses a risk to the current workforce also, with construction jobs planned for housing and infrastructure projects possibly shelved due to the risk associated.

Dave from ConX Jobs explores 5 options to increase the numbers taking up construction apprenticeships, and more importantly, completing them.

Two way tax relief for companies investing in apprentices

With costs rising for construction companies, in particular wages for trades in demand, companies may be less likely to risk taking on an apprenticeship and paying the enrolment fees. Providing a tax incentive for construction sub contractors and apprentices who complete training, may increase numbers over the long term.

Mandatory % of apprentices for construction companies

A little more drastic, but a properly enforced and governed drive to have a nominal percent of the workforce employed by construction companies with >20m turnover filled by apprentices, with tax incentive based on completion rates.

construction apprenticeships, tradies, construction jobs

Apprentice pay rates

Currently an apprentice can earn as little as 15 dollars an hour after three years of training, without completing a 40 hour week due to classroom learning. The figures indicate a huge drop off after the first year, could the pay scale be adjusted for a more attractive wage after 2 years of training to encourage apprentices to finish training?

Apprentice training format

The current classroom/on site model, although resulting in a highly trained tradesman after four years, may also need to be analysed. Could a more aggressive schedule of training, aimed to complete over a max of three years across all trades, with more focus on onsite hands on training, deliver the same standard of qualified tradesmen in a shorter timespan?

Government investment in trade awareness

Increasing awareness and creating a positive image of a career on construction for pre graduates could be taken on at a federal level. The Government are aware of the issue, and are increasing funding for TAFE in the upcoming budget, but more must be done to increase numbers choosing a career in construction in the first place.


John White from the ABBTF (Australian Brick and Blocklaying Training Foundation) believes there is no standard approach, and regular communication between apprentices and their mentors is the key.

"The argument will never stop as to how much time  an apprentice must spend labouring before he lays bricks! Is it 3 months ? One year? Or 3 years?"

"The one thing that stops the acrimony is the conversation right at the beginning so both parties are aware of the end goal."

What do you think? Share your comments below..