The Northern Rivers’ regional manager for Business NSW, Jane Laverty, says the government must support apprentices.
The Northern Rivers’ regional manager for Business NSW, Jane Laverty, says the government must support apprentices.

‘We hadn’t realised how tough apprentices were doing it’

THE number of apprentices in training is expected to fall dramatically in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, the state's peak business organisation has warned.

Business NSW's new report on apprenticeships found immediate government intervention was needed to rescue work opportunities for more than 50,000 young people.

Regional manager Jane Laverty said the number of apprentices starting this year was more than 30 percent lower than last year.

"We knew that apprentices were doing it tough, but we hadn't realised how tough," she said..

"Without significant intervention, the number of apprentices in training in 2021 will fall to levels not seen since 1998 and are unlikely to recover until 2025, even if the economy is on the path to recovery.

"Given the scale of the impact, the government must act now to make any inroads into turning the trend around, including by providing employers with a significant subsidy for new starter apprentice wages."

Ms Laverty said the Supporting Apprentices and Trainees subsidy had been highly effective.

She said it needed to continue past its October 1 expiry date.

"Young people also need access to an industry-supported pre-apprenticeship program to help them prepare for the workforce, and ongoing support for group training organisations is also crucial to support both apprentices and their employers," Ms Laverty said.

"COVID-19 has had a huge impact on businesses, with many still willing but incapable of providing training opportunities.

"Taking action now will help the current and future generations of young people gain the skills they need to avoid a life on welfare.

"We can't leave it five years before doing anything.

"By then, it will be far too late."



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