A 7.4 per cent decline in the number of WA trainees and apprentices in-training is leaving the state at risk of a skills shortage.
A release from the National Centre for Vocational Education Research has found a 7.4 per cent decline in the number of Western Australian trainees and apprentices in training during the year to March 2018, leaving the state at risk of a skills shortage.
This represents more than six times the national change.
Apprentice and trainee commencements are down 3.2 per cent over the same period, while completions are down 4.2 per cent.
The report found the brunt of this decline was felt by the construction industry, where commencements were down 12.4 per cent.
In contrast, automotive and engineering trade commencements were up 33.8 per cent, which was attributed to a slowly strengthening resources sector.
Existing worker commencements have suffered the biggest hit, declining 24 per cent.
This follows the WA government’s removal of the payroll tax exemption for existing trainees, an action that had raised concerns from by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of WA (CCI), led by chief executive Chris Rodwell.
Apprenticeship Support Australia, which is delivered by CCI, identified that in the first half of 2018, a month after the policy was changed, traineeships for existing workers in WA fell by 44.4 per cent compared with the same period last year.
CCI has urged the state and federal governments to finalise their Skilling Australians Fund negotiations, to provide incentive to employers to utilise apprenticeships and traineeships.
The fund estimates an injection of $1.5 billion nationally into apprenticeships and traineeships from 2017-18 to 2021-22, however the WA state government is yet to sign the agreement.