Strong signs of business confidence returning as employers commit to 4-year training

Apprenticeship vacancies increased 150% to 687 positions nationally in May, after a dramatic decline in April.

The biggest proportional increase from April 2020 advertised vacancies is in hospitality, travel and tourism. Vacancies in this field had plummeted by 97% in April to just three available positions nation-wide. As lockdowns lift, businesses in this industry are starting to look to the future again. Advertised vacancies are still almost half of May 2019 vacancies, but the renewed interest in committing to training young people indicates that confidence is returning to the sector hit hardest by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Another industry regaining confidence is sports, recreation, hair and beauty services, which fell by 94% in April. Vacancies in this sector are now at almost 50% compared with the same time last year, indicating a gradual return to normal.

“The number of apprenticeship vacancies advertised is a good proxy for economic confidence,” said Gary Workman, CEO of the Global Apprenticeship Network (Australia).

“Apprenticeships are 3-4 year commitments that a business makes to secure its future. When businesses are uncertain that they will be able to support an apprentice for that timeframe, they are very reluctant to take them on.”

“This is a positive sign for the economy and for the prospects of young people looking for work in a tough climate. But there’s a long way to go. Apprenticeships and traineeships never fully recovered after the GFC as employers turned to casual workers, subcontracting and 457 visas to make up the skills shortfall. To ensure that young people build the skills for a secure and rewarding career, and to make sure Australia has the skills it needs to rebuild the economy, we need businesses to invest in apprenticeships and traineeships.”

“If employers are still hesitant about committing to 3-4 years now, they could use the flexible group training apprenticeship employment model that supports employers and apprentices over course of the apprenticeship, and rotates apprentices to other host employers to obtain a rounded skillset, or to ease the burden on host employers.”


State % of April 2019 % of April 2020
ACT 89% 179%
NSW 51% 95%
NT 43% 75%
QLD 69% 199%
SA 85% 220%
TAS 27%
VIC 72% 193%
WA 40% 271%
National Total 61% 147%

View the full dataset using the interactive Apprenticeship Vacancy Index.

Victoria, Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia have experienced the strongest bounce-back from last month, while NSW and the Northern Territory are still heading in the wrong direction, with both states advertising fewer vacancies in May than in April.

While WA had the strongest recovery from April 2020, apprenticeship vacancies in that state still are still at just 40% of the same month last year – the biggest drop year-on-year.

Gary Workman, Executive Director of the Global Apprenticeship Network, is available for comment.

Media contacts:

Parnell McGuinness 0412 22 82 82

Amy Leiper 0414 643 446