A recent report by the Victorian Skills commission suggests that universities have been too successful with their push for more enrolments, contributing to a significant drop in apprentices. While this may or may not be true, a quick glance at the Skills Shortage List shows that there is a dearth of people taking up trades, including: bricklayer, stonemason, painting trades worker, glazier, fibrous plasterer, solid plasterer, panel beater, locksmith, vehicle painter, roof tiler, wall and floor tiler, automotive electrician, motor mechanic and sheetmetal trades worker. These, and more, are listed in the most recent list as experiencing a national shortage, with employers unable to fill vacancies.
Meanwhile, around the country, university enrolments continue to rise. The period 2001 to 2016 saw an increase of approximately 44 per cent across all university fields of study. Looking more closely, engineering has seen 33 per cent increase nationally and architecture and building an increase of 76 per cent. Their respective graduate employment rates (74 and 59 per cent) suggest that while students who study these fields are successful in finding a job, it isn’t at ‘hands on’ level, which leaves significant gaps in the fields.
Apprenticeships and traineeships have suffered in recent years, perhaps due to a confluence of perception, automation and qualification escalation. Apprenticeships and trade roles in general are commonly seen as a fall-back option, rather than a career choice that requires skill and dedication. University is often perceived as the pinnacle of education and for some subjects and students, that is probably true, however, it discounts the opportunities in the VET sector, and while automation is having an impact in a range of trade roles, there are still many that require qualified people.
Find out more about how apprenticeships and traineeships can offer strong career prospects by attending the Geelong ACS Seminar. This year it is again hosted by The Gordon Institute of TAFE and they will be on hand to answer questions and provide information about VET options for your students.