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Rise in youth unemployment ‘a result of traineeship cuts’

Federation University    |      28 August  2014

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Recent rises in youth unemployment in Victoria and elsewhere in Australia are a result of cuts to traineeships, according to Federation University Australia researcher Professor Erica Smith.

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Traineeships

…not so available now.

Traineeships are a similar form of employment arrangement to apprenticeship, in which people are employed at the same time as undertaking a nationally recognised qualification.  Smith says the value of traineeships is that they expanded structured training opportunities to a much wider range of industries than traditional apprenticeships.

“Previously the opportunities were only available in trade jobs, which were almost all undertaken by men.”

Most employment opportunities for young people these days are in the service industries, which are well catered for by traineeships. Research has confirmed the high standard of many traineeships and particularly the role that they play in assisting young people and disadvantaged people into employment.

However, over the last three years the Commonwealth government, beginning under Labor, has progressively withdrawn the small amounts of funding provided to employers to help them set up and run traineeship programs.

From 2012 in Victoria, the State Government has reduced funding for the training in those occupations in which the majority of young people used to find their first jobs, often through a traineeship: retail and hospitality. It is not surprising that with this ‘double whammy’, many of these job opportunities have disappeared, Smith says.

Youth unemployment started to climb very quickly after the double sets of cuts to traineeships were implemented.

“Employers would take a risk with a young person if they knew that a structured training program would help them develop the young person into an effective worker, but they are less likely to take that risk without such support,” Professor Smith said.

National figures for apprenticeships and traineeships recently released by NCVER show a continuing decline in numbers. Nationally, figures have declined by 20% in the past year (with Victoria at nearly 25%) with ‘non-trades’ commencements (ie traineeship commencements) falling by 31%.

Smith describes this as a massive reduction, which is is unprecedented internationally:

Internationally, most countries are seeking to expand their apprenticeship and traineeship in order to combat youth unemployment triggered by the global financial crisis. Australia is alone in reducing opportunities for young people.

Employers would take a risk with a young person if they knew that a structured training program would help them develop the young person into an effective worker, but they are less likely to take that risk without such support.

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