Print apprentices slump by two thirds

Print apprentices slump by two thirds
Numbers drop from 1500 to 500 in just five years, Macaulay seeks action

PIAA CEO Andrew Macaulay is fronting leading state politicians about the apprentice crisis in print, telling ProPrint that numbers have plunged by two thirds in the past five years.

Macaulay says. “There are now 500 apprentices compared to the 1500 five years go. The decrease of apprentices will be halted if we can secure State backing to re-invigorate the TAFE system, and Federal backing to support industry training. This is why we are actively working with all State Governments, Holmesglen (TAFE) and the Federal Government.”

“The numbers went up with Future Print, and there was large industry uptake. The weakness in Future Print was that delivery was focused through RTOs (registered training organisations), and on-site, to the detriment of TAFEs. This resulted in a decline of the infrastructure needed to support off the job training, such as existed at the State TAFE facilities. We are aiming to re-invigorate the Future Print process, with the benefit of getting the TAFEs started and fully resourced again.”

There are currently just two offsite training centres for print apprentices in Australia, Macaulay says, “Facilities exist in NSW (Ultimo) and Victoria (Holmesglen). Off the job facilities provided by the TAFEs are critically important for small to medium sized printers, and even some of the larger printers prefer this delivery model.”

[Related: PIAA apprentice numbers collapsing]

Macaulay is in talks with a number of state politicians on the apprenticeship crisis facing the printing industry.

He has spoken with NSW opposition leader Luke Foley, and to Tasmanian education minister Jeremy Rockcliff, saying government needs to be taking a holistic approach to apprentices.

He says, “We need to be going back to the schools in NSW and encouraging trades careers through secondary schools, revamping the Tafe system so it has the resources both physical and staffing to support apprentices, and we need to be resourcing to help those business that are putting through the apprentices.

“Foley is receptive about the message and wants to talk more about the issue. We are going to set up a meeting in Sydney to talk about that and other issues for our members. I will be reaching out to members today to get a gist of when would be a good time to set it up.”

Macaulay says he has also made contact with the Tasmanian education minister Jeremy Rockcliff explaining what is happening in SA, VIC and Tasmania, “What we are trying to do is bring together federal and state policies so there is consistency nationally.”

[Related: PICA entry deadline extended]

A five year Productivity Commission review has just been published and showed the number of apprenticeships nationally across all trades has plummeted, from 500,000 to 275,000, in the last five years. Macaulay has spoken out about this saying we are in dire need of a national system.

He says, “The productivity commission accurately reflected the trend, which was down. We forecast that the bottom has been reached, due to industry demand for new staff.”

The Productivity Review assesses the factors and influences that could affect Australia’s economic performance over the medium term, in order to advise where priorities should lie if we are to enhance national welfare.


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