Australian businesses are experiencing ongoing skills shortages, despite the number of apprentices reaching an all-time high.

According to the most recent data from the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER), apprentices and trainees have increased by almost 17% from the previous year.

The National Skills Commission’s annual report for 2021 reveals that almost half of employers (45%) reported having recruitment difficulty for their most recent vacancies. The most recent national Skills Priority List found that nearly half (42%) of Technician and Trade occupations are currently in shortage.

Executive Director of the AEN, Gary Workman, says that addressing the disconnect between high apprentice numbers and an ongoing skills shortage is crucial in keeping the lights on for some businesses. According to the 2022 Australian Bureau of Statistics June survey for ‘Business Conditions and Sentiments’ skill shortages are putting industries relying on trade workers, labourers, and hospitality workers under pressure.

“Apprenticeships are a long-term solution to address skill gaps in the workforce, the current apprenticeship boom needs to be continued to assist with addressing those gaps. Additional measures are also needed to ensure youth have sustainable career options and businesses can continue to build the skills they need,” Mr Workman said.

“The Treasurer is looking for more efficient ways to do things. The obvious place to start would be by ensuring employers are only subsidised for genuine new apprenticeships.”

“These are some of the key issues the government must consider at the September Jobs and Skills Summit.”

This year’s National Skills Week runs from the 22nd to the 28th of August, and its theme is “A Universe of Skills: Go Beyond Your Imagination.”

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