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Future of the workforce: apprentices in building and construction


Apprentices are the future of the building and construction workforce. At Master Builders Australia, the aim is simple: to bring more apprentices to the industry, provide them with highquality training, education and on the job experience, give them support, help them thrive and provide them with a rewarding, financially viable and satisfying career. This is and will always be the priority of the building and construction industry.

Australia’s building and construction industry faces the enormous task of building enough homes, commercial premises and infrastructure to meet increasing demand and a growing population.

Labour shortages are the biggest source of pressure on and disruption to delivering against these goals. Despite a sizeable workforce of 1.35 million, the industry has an annual exit rate of eight per cent and is currently only replacing about half of those losses.

Apprentices are the main source of new industry entrants. One in 10 industry workers are currently undertaking an apprenticeship, making up a third of the total apprentices in Australia.

Recommendations include:

  • Promoting varied and rewarding pathways to school-aged students, their parents and careers advisers.
  • Overhauling the funding for and quality of careers education in schools.
  • Investing in programs that provide clear and practical information on what an apprenticeship and future career pathway in the industry could be.
  • Supporting schools to adopt better integrated vocational education and training into the school curriculum especially in early high-school years.
  • Encouraging secondary school students to undertake their White Card training.
  • Expanding support for women in building and construction programs.
  • Reintroducing an incentive system with commencement and completion bonuses to apprentices and employers.
  • Introducing a tiered wage subsidy that better supports mature-aged apprentices and reflects existing skill levels.
  • Funding the cost differential for Group Training Organisations to host an apprentice and provide vital pastoral care services.
  • Introducing incentives to encourage industry upskilling from a Certificate III to a Certificate IV.
  • Ensuring funding is proportionally distributed between TAFE and industry-led Registered Training Organisations.
  • Reviewing the restrictive nature of Modern Awards and pattern Enterprise Bargaining Agreements on flexible work arrangements.

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