Apprenticeship drop out rates are increasing across regional Queensland.
Apprenticeship drop out rates are increasing across regional Queensland. Chris Chan GLA061011GAGL

The reasons thousands of regional apprentices drop out

NEARLY 2000 regional Queensland apprentices and trainees have abandoned their training in the past 18 months - and the dropout rate is climbing in the regions.

National Centre for Vocational Education Research figures show across regional Queensland 1926 apprentices and trainees dropped out between mid-2015 and December 2016.

Dropouts increased 5 per cent across inner regional areas including Toowoomba, Bundaberg, Fraser Coast, Gladstone, Rockhampton and Mackay and 10 per cent in outer regional cities including Townsville and Cairns.

The Brisbane the dropout rate decreased 5 per cent.

A recent report from Construction Skills Queensland also details the number of new apprentices in the construction industry decreasing across regional Queensland.

In the Darling Downs the number of new apprentices has decreased from 7.3 apprentices for every 100 workers to 3.9 apprentices.

In the Mackay region the intake rate has dropped from 6 new apprentices for every 100 workers to 3.2.

Industry advocates have called for more access to training at schools and for more mentors for existing regional apprentices to reduce dropouts.

QUT regional economic expert Mark McGovern said young apprentices were not convinced a trade would be worth it because of a lack of infrastructure projects, a depressed rural economy and centralisation of services in cities.

He said the centralisation of such things as railway workshops, power and phone services in central cities meant there was less work in regional areas for people studying those trades.

"It's not like the government doesn't know about these things," he said.

"Each of the parties needs to work out what specifically they are going to do about it.

"The whole rural economy is depressed. That's the base level for employment in regional areas. Investment projects are the cream floating on top of that."

TAFE Queensland SkillsTech acting general manager John Tucker said the number of people completing apprenticeships was linked to a region's economic performance.

When you're in an area where the economy is lagging or a major boom has ended then the number of people dropping out and not finishing their training will increase, he said.

Mr Tucker said financial concerns and a lack of support and two of the main reasons people dropped out of training.

"Then there are definitely some apprentices who see they are getting paid low hourly rates and think they can make more working somewhere else," he said.

"That's a short term view. Over the long term you'll be earning a good wage and in some cases more than people who have gone to university."

Mr Tucker said he encouraged those thinking of doing a trade to test it out using a career start program.

"As a trainer at TAFE we provide student support services to help anyone who needs it. There are other industry groups out there who apprentices and employers can go to if they need support," he said.

Energy Skills Queensland CEO Penelope Twemlow said more support was needed for regional apprentices.

"In regional areas there is a marked difference in the availability of support networks for apprentices," she said.

"There needs to be someone they can talk to when they are starting to have doubt or not enjoy what they are doing, which will happen over the course of four years of training.

"And in some trades that are still male dominated there is a definite need for women mentors for female apprentices to turn to."

Ms Twemlow said increasing the scope and availability of school-based apprenticeships could encourage more young people to stick with a trade.

"At the moment some schools only offer apprenticeships in certain industries - like say tourism," she said.

"It should be that every school, no matter if it's co-ed, or boys or girls only, offers apprenticeships in all industries." - NewsRegional


Goal: Improve apprenticeship completion rates across regional Queensland.

How we get there:

* More support staff working in training organisations.

* More female mentors to help girls and young women finish trades.

* More regional infrastructure projects to create job certainty.