Push for growth in trades courses

A serious shortage of people pursuing trades at a time of strong housing and infrastructure growth has pushed the NSW government to prioritise vocational courses for specific jobs.

Figures provided to the HES show the number of students enrolled in state-funded automotive and engineering trade courses fell nearly 30 per cent between 2011 and 2014, while construction trades enrolments grew just 4 per cent across those three years.

The fastest growth was in carers and aides qualifications, which grew by 18 per cent, while hospitality courses recorded the biggest decline, down an average 12 per cent a year.
 

NSW Skills Minister John Barilaro said students considering apprenticeships or traineeships should take advantage of the current “unprecedented” period of investment.


Housing approvals, a key lead indicator for construction activity, are currently at a record high of around 225,000 starts in the past 12 months, according to analysis produced by Macquarie, with a record 180,000 dwellings under construction.
 

“Electricians, carpenters and business services are the trades and traineeships the next generation should be thinking about as a career or business venture, as these are the jobs that industry needs to place skilled workers in,” Mr Barilaro said.


“What industry and employers desperately need is to place more skilled workers into future jobs that meet their business demand.

Currently around 52 per cent of people complete trade apprenticeships. We have made it a key state priority to increase the proportion of people completing apprenticeships and traineeships to 65 per cent.”

A shortage of engineering trades graduates could become more acute in the coming year with the number of students in courses falling 28 per cent in the year ending 2014, the last period for which records are available.

The number of students has also significantly declined in a number of other fields just in the last year, with “other technicians and trades” falling 14 per cent, hospitality down 10 per cent and general clerical courses recording a 14 per cent fall in numbers.

The state government, however, is banking on a number of new initiatives to counter the fall and direct new students into in-demand study areas. It has already said it will subsidise more than 500,000 places for students studying to become mechanics, electricians and bricklayers, and provide extra support to employers to allow greater flexibility for them to choose which training provider to use in the delivery of apprentices and trainees.
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