FactCheck: are Australian apprentices ‘disappearing’?

“The previous government oversaw changes to apprenticeship policy and cuts in employer incentives that led to huge drops in the numbers of young people starting an apprenticeship.” – Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, media release, October 30.

The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry has blamed the former government for a fall in the number of young people starting an apprenticeship.

The decline has been labelled in The Australian as “the disappearing trainee” – a legacy of the Labor government linked to its decision to remove employer incentives.

So are Australian apprentices really disappearing?

Disappearing act

There are two types of Australian apprentices. There are those who are learning the skills listed on the National Skills Needs List – like plumbers, hairdressers and electricians – and those who aren’t.

The National Skills Needs List identifies the areas that are experiencing a national skills shortage.

In October 2012, the Labor government reduced the employer incentives for part-time apprentices in non-skills shortage areas. But in August 2013, Labor removed the financial incentives to non-skills shortage apprenticeships entirely.

This meant there were no longer incentives for apprenticeships in retail positions in food, clothing, information technology, horticulture, printing and for dental assistants.

The thinking was that these areas did not need incentives for formal apprenticeships because, by and large, on the job training would suffice.

Facts and figures

The last two years have seen a drop overall in the number of new apprenticeships. But there has been barely any drop in the traditional trade apprenticeships with skill shortages.

Using figures from the National Centre for Vocational Education and Research (NCVER), in the first nine months of 2012, there was a reduction in apprenticeships overall from 263,500 to 185,300 in the same period in 2013.

As the first chart below shows, the number of new apprentices dropped by 30% this year when combining the total trade and non-trade apprenticeship figures.

But the drop in “trade” apprentices was not nearly as severe. In fact, it was not severe at all when comparing 2012 to 2013.

New apprenticeships, trade and non-trade broken down by month for the year to date 2013 and for 2012. NCVER

The trade apprentice commencement figures show a decline of a mere 1,900 commencements in the first three quarters of 2013 (71,700), when compared with the first three quarters of 2012 (73,600).

In 2012, the total number of traditional trade apprentice commencements was 95,600. If the December quarter for this year sees another 23,900 traditional trade apprentice commencements, which is feasible, then there will be no downturn in traditional trades.

This graph also shows that the number of apprentices from non-traditional trades – the ones Labor’s changes targeted – were on the decline before the first policy shift in 2012. This tells us that the government’s actions are unlikely to be the sole reason behind the decline in these types of apprenticeships.

Youth and apprenticeships

The focus on young people being associated with apprenticeships is a recurring but inaccurate view. The majority of all apprentices (50.27%) were aged 25 years or older in 2012 according to NCVER data.

A little under half are classified as youth. The 2013 figures are not available but this trend is not unusual.

So young school leavers were not particularly affected by the overall downturn in apprenticeships, any more than those over 25 were.

The proportion of apprenticeship commencements by age group. NCVER/Author


Under Labor’s watch, there has been a drop in apprentice commencements but only for non-trade apprenticeships. These were on the decline before the employer incentives were withdrawn by Labor, while traditional trade apprentice commencements have remained steady.


This article is helpful and a fair examination of the evidence. The report of the Expert Panel into Apprenticeships for the 21st Century provides the research behind the policy shift discussed. – John Buchanan.

Ever seen a “fact” that doesn’t look quite right? The Conversation’s FactCheck unit asks academic experts to test claims and see how true they really are. We then ask a second academic to review an anonymous copy of the article.

You can request a check at checkit@theconversation.edu.au. Please include the statement you would like us to check, the date it was made, and a link if possible.

The authors do not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article. They also have no relevant affiliations.The Conversation

This article was originally published at The Conversation. Read the original article.

Siemens PLM Software announces free Student Edition of Tecnomatix Plant Simulation Software

Siemens PLM Software has introduced a free Student Edition of its Plant Simulation software from the Tecnomatix portfolio.

Announced as part of the company's ongoing investment in education, the free Student Edition of the Tecnomatix Plant Simulation software can be downloaded by full-time or part-time students at any academic level at no charge, to help develop real-world skills that are in demand within the global manufacturing industry.

Plant Simulation is a 3D visualisation and discrete event simulation software that is designed to enable students to quickly and easily create digital logistics models through the use of built-in object libraries to optimise material flow, resource utilisation and operations.

Using the digital manufacturing application, students can run experiments and 'what-if' scenarios while having access to extensive analysis tools, statistical models and charts to evaluate different manufacturing situations and to prepare them for making fast, reliable decisions in production planning.

Siemens PLM Software Senior Director of Partner Strategy, Bill Boswell, explained that the offer aims to address the current crisis in manufacturing caused by a global aging workforce, increased product complexity and current education gap by expanding the software and resources available to students and professors.

He added that customers need the next generation of engineers to enter the market with digital manufacturing expertise. With free access to Tecnomatix Plant Simulation, students can now develop those skills to address this critical gap.

The Plant Simulation Student Edition is non-transferable and is not intended for commercial use.

AIP and APPMA to host joint technical dinner

The Australian Institute of Packaging (AIP) Victorian Branch and the Australian Packaging and Processing Machinery Association (APPMA) will be holding a technical dinner on Wednesday 5th September with speakers from Result Packaging and Matthews Intelligent Identification.

National Sales Manager for Result Packaging, Michael Dossor MAIP, will be presenting a paper on flexible packaging, while Mark Dingley, Manager – Identification Systems, Matthews Intelligent Identification will present on real-time visibility of the packaging floor.

In many cases, flexible packaging film has become the packaging substrate of choice with drivers, providing a range of benefits including cost advantages compared to other forms of packaging and the ability to use the entire packaging to communicate branding and product benefits.

Michael's presentation will look at the one factor that flexible packaging does not easily offer to a consumer: easy opening and resealability.

The focus of the presentation will be to look at how ancillary application equipment as well as developments in adhesive materials can update any existing vertical or horizontal flow wrapper into a device that can add the easy open or resealable feature without the need for new primary capital equipment.

Mark Dingley, Manager – Identification Systems, Matthews Intelligent Identification, will be presenting a paper on 'Real-time visibility of the packaging floor: You cannot manage what you cannot measure!' With Australian manufacturing companies looking to achieve higher manufacturing efficiencies by consolidating operations and encouraging lean manufacturing, measurement has become critical because the survival of the operation depends on its success.

Mark will talk about measurement that can provide timely feedback to determine the operation's successes and improvement areas, and enable quick decision-making. He will discuss what to measure and how and why OEE is one best practice measure that is gathering wide acceptance through FMCG manufacturers. Production and availability data can be captured from all networked coding and labelling machines as well as all end-of-line equipment including vision systems, scanners and other packaging equipment with PLC interface on the production line.

Packaging technologists head to Woolworths

More than 70 packaging technologists, engineers and designers participated in the 2012 AIP/IGD in-store Shelf Friendly Packaging training programme held across three states in one week.

Supported by Woolworths, the training sessions were conducted by James Tupper, ECR Learning & Change Manager at the IGD, United Kingdom.

The training was designed to focus on the last 50 metres of the Shelf Friendly Packaging supply chain and provided packaging technologists, SFP designers and manufacturers the opportunity to work hands-on in-store and understand the complexities and difficulties that poor SFP design causes for store fillers and staff.

Attendees had the opportunity to participate in three practical exercises in-store that showed what SFP works, which doesn’t and why. Attendees soon realised that tape over perforations, poor gluing of boxes, perforations that do not open, no finger holes, poor design and identification of front edges and poor quality corrugate are just some of the reasons why SFP is not used in-store.

The AIP stated that the training was an invaluable way for packaging technologists and designers to truly understand the last 50 metres and also ensure that their SFP designs were fit-for-purpose.


Female engineering graduate numbers increasing

Female graduates at the University of Sydney's Faculty of Engineering and Information Technologies are reaching record numbers, mid-year figures have revealed.

According to Dr Tim Wilkinson, Associate Dean (Education), the faculty has experienced a steady increase in the number of female students enrolling and graduating from its many disciplines.

Alarmingly, however, while 20 percent of engineering graduates are now females, only 10.5 percent of practising engineers are women. This is despite the continuing efforts of academic institutions and employer interventions to address the gender gap.

Professor Archie Johnston, Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Information Technologies, said the faculty encourages all female high school students to consider the exciting range of engineering and IT careers that are on offer.

He said while the numbers are increasing and are encouraging there is no time to be complacent.

"We still need to focus on increasing the number of school students taking higher levels of mathematics and sciences to underpin growth in all of the engineering qualifications. And every effort must be continued further lift the rates of women enrolling in engineering and IT undergraduate programs at Australian universities," he concluded.

Linfox Australia launches US university scholarship

Linfox Australia and the Intermodal Transportation Institute (ITI) have announced the Lindsay E. Fox Scholarship at the University of Denver.

Named after the founder of Fox Group Holdings and Linfox Logistics, the Lindsay E. Fox Scholarship will support graduate education in intermodal transportation management at the Intermodal Transportation Institute’s executive masters program at the University.

Lindsay E. Fox is the founder of Fox Group Holdings and Linfox Logistics. The Linfox business was founded in1956 and has since grown to become one of the largest transportation and warehousing groups in Australia and the Asia Pacific Region.

The ITI at the University of Denver offers an Executive Masters Program that awards a Master of Science in Intermodal Transportation Management from the University of Denver.  The program designed for working professionals to help prepare the next generation of senior management for the intermodal transportation industry.

ITI is currently recruiting for its 11th graduate class, which will start in the fall of 2012. The Fox Scholarship awardee will be announced at the October at meeting of the ITI Board of Directors on the University of Denver Campus.

ITI is a key learning center on Linfox College’s senior management curriculum. The company supports the ITI Executive Masters Program, from which 14 Linfox employees have been matriculated into the program since its inception in 2002.

Linfox’s chief executive officer, Michael Byrne is an ITI graduate. He currently serves on the ITI Board of Directors.

The ITI was founded in 1997.

For more information on the ITI Executive Masters Program, click here.

Image: Linfox


David Hay logistic scholarships give students a helping hand

VICTORIA University and the David Hay Education Endowment have been awarded Ann Impala and Leanne Bradford the 2012 inaugural David Hay Scholarship for the supply chain, transport and logistics industry.

Under the scholarship program, Impala and Bradford will receive financial support to undertake a Diploma in Logistics on a full-time study basis.

The diploma is designed to equip recipients with skills and knowledge to advance their career in fields, such as purchasing, materials management, inventory management, operations management, warehousing, distribution, transport, and customer service.

2012 David Hay Scholarship was open to applicants looking to study either a Diploma of Logistics or a Graduate Certificate in Business specialising in supply chain and logistics at Victoria University.

Preference was given to applicants who aspire to advance their career in the supply chain, logistics and transport industry, according to the 2012 application form.

The 2012 David Hay Scholarship recipients were announced on 21 February 2012. Both receiptients are currently completing their first semester at Victoria University.

The David Hay Education Endowment was established in 2011 in honour of the late David Hay, who started in the transport industry as a truck driver. Hay attended night school and worked his way up to become one of Australia’s most well-respected industry leaders.

The David Hay Scholarship recognises David’s 50-year industry contribution by creating opportunities for those passionate about starting or advancing a career in the supply chain and logistics industry.

Image: L-R: Ann Impala, Christine Hay, Leanne Bradford, and Dr Hermione Parsons, director and associate professor, Institute for Supply Chain and Logistics, Victoria University.

LMH Q&A with MLA Holdings’ first female mechanic

MLA Holdings’ third-year apprentice diesel fitter, Amy Chetcuti talks to LMH about being the company’s first and only female mechanic.

LMH: Why did you consider a career in mechanical trade?
There isn’t any one thing in particular that influenced my decision to undertake a career in the mechanical trade. I have always enjoyed a challenge, such as troubleshooting, and love working with my hands. I don’t mind getting dirty and I gain a great deal of satisfaction when I can solve the problem at hand. Another aspect which influenced my decision was gaining the additional skills and abilities to use outside the workplace, such as working on my own vehicle. At this point in time I am the first of my family to undertake a mechanical trade. 

LMH: What do you like about your job at MLA?
The things I like most about working at MLA is the variety of work and challenges that are set before me. I enjoy taking pride and pleasure in fault finding and successfully restoring the forklift in working order. Overall, I love the challenge of the position and love continually learning new things. 

LMH: What does it mean to be MLA Holdings first and only female mechanic?
AC: I think it is amazing and it is an honour to be the first female mechanic within MLA Holdings; and also a great opportunity for which I am grateful for. I’m not sure why there isn’t more female mechanics within the industry. It can be quite daunting at times being such a male dominated trade, especially when going out on to site. I do enjoy the satisfaction of undertaking and completing jobs of which some people think a woman cannot do. I love it! 

LMH: What advice would you give to other females interested in a career in mechanical trade?
If you’re interested and want to pursue a trade I say go for it. It is very rewarding. It takes a bit of persistence but definitely worth it. Show these boys how it’s done!  

More about Amy

AMY is based at MLA’s Brisbane branch. In December last year, Amy travelled to Northern Territory to assist with the installation of two Vulcan C400/5. 

The project entailed taking the Vulcan C400 machine out of port to assemble it, test it, and commission it in Darwin, before flying to Alice Springs to repeat the process before delivering it to the customer. Amy’s role on the project involved her assisting with these tasks and putting the truck together. 

MLA said the 10-day project, which concluded on on 12 December, was an excellent platform to showcase Amy’s capability and strengths within the industry as "she excelled at all given roles".

Amy completed a Certificate IV in Aircraft Maintenance Engineering- Mechanical at Aviation Australia, before successfully applying for an apprenticeship with the forklift rental company in January of 2010.

MLA Holdings 131 652, www.mlaholdings.com.au

New training academy offers a fresh approach

A productive, efficient and sustainable transport and logistics industry is vital for the economic wellbeing of Australia. 

The establishment of the VTA Academy – a joint initiative between the Victorian Transport Association (VTA) and Mint Group – will help to provide transport and logistics companies with tailored training and labour solutions. 

Launched in March this year, the Academy will assist companies to recruit, train, develop and retain their workforce, and deliver integrated workforce solutions and accredited training in Australia and overseas.

VTA deputy CEO, Neil Chambers said that while the transport and logistics industry is focused on productivity and efficiency, at the end of the day, it is about having and retaining the right people who can deliver and meet industry challenges.

"Transport and logistics activities account for close to 15% of economic activity in Australia, and most industries rely on transport and logistics to underpin their own productivity and viability," Chambers said. 

"Sure, we deal with heavy vehicles – there are over 600,000 heavy freight vehicles registered in Australia – as well as ships, airplanes, trains and large warehouse capacities. But at the end of the day, the transport and logistics industry is a people business operating in a complex and demanding operational environment. 

"Having the right skilled staff, in the right place, at the right time is a constant challenge for the industry," he said.

According to Chambers, the rate ageing of the industry’s workforce is of real concern. For instance, he said, the current average age of truck drivers is at least 45 years, and older for other sectors, such as linehaul, with almost half of existing truck drivers forecast to be at retirement age by 2026. Such figures suggest that building a solid skills base for the future is necessary and something which companies need to start looking at.

"We’ve got to grow the pool of skilled labour available to meet not only the levels of staff attrition facing us, but to meet the growth demand from the increasing freight task," he said. 

"The Academy is designed to implement labour and training programs to help facilitate this required market and labour growth, while delivering the right skills sets." 

Image: The VTA Academy was launched at Crown casino, Melbourne, Victoria, on 6 March 2012. Pictured (L-R): VTA Academy GM, Kevin Halpin; VTA President and Freestone’s Transport, Paul Freestone; VTA deputy CEO, Neil Chambers;  VTA Deputy CEO; Minister for Higher Education and Skills, Peter Hall; VTA CEO Philip Lovel; Mint Group CEO Tony Fritsche; and Mint Group MD Michael Arthur.

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