Jobs and Skills Australia has recently released its April Recruitment Experiences and Outlook Survey (REOS) spotlight report. This link to the relevant report enables readers to access and ‘spotlight’ the experiences of employers recruiting an apprentice in a range of industries. The REOS routinely asks around 1000 employers each month about their experiences recruiting staff. You can find the spotlight paper itself here.

It was noted in the paper that most of the employers included in this research operated in three industries – Construction, Manufacturing and the ‘Other Services’ industry, “which covers a diverse range of sectors including automotive repair and maintenance as well as hair and beauty services.” Together, these industries accounted for around 80% of employers recruiting for apprentices in the REOS survey.

Overall, employers are having less difficulty recruiting apprentices, compared with all other vacancies, the spotlight paper reports. However, it also found that the recruitment difficulty rate for apprentices varied by industry. Employers in the Manufacturing and Other Services industries had much more difficulty recruiting apprentices (55% and 51% respectively) compared with employers in the Construction industry (32%). However, the recruitment difficulty rate for apprentices was still below the ‘all vacancy average’ for each of these three industries.


“A high recruitment difficulty rate (at 62%) was recorded for businesses looking for apprentice ‘Other Technicians and Trades Workers’ which mainly included Cabinet and Furniture Makers, and Hairdressers. On the other hand, the lowest recruitment difficulty rate (at 25%) was recorded for occupations in the Electrotechnology and Telecommunications Trades Workers group (this was mainly Electricians, and Airconditioning and Refrigeration Mechanics).”

Reasons for apprentice recruitment difficulties

The REOS asks employers who reported experiencing recruitment difficulty for the reasons why they found recruitment difficult. Of the employers who said that recruiting an apprentice was difficult, almost half (46%) said that they had too few applicants, which was much higher than the 32% recorded for all vacancies.

Competition for recruits was also a factor with some 16% of employers recruiting apprentices finding it difficult to attract applicants due to competition, compared with 12% for all employers. The paper also pointed out that:

“This was particularly the case for employers in the Other Services industry (Hairdresser and Motor Mechanic apprentices comprised the majority of the sample in this industry) where around one in four employers (26%) stated competition was a reason for having recruitment difficulty. Notably, ‘undesirable working conditions/hours/wages’ particularly impacted employers in the Other Services industry, with 20% providing this as a reason for recruitment difficulty, compared with the average for all employers recruiting for apprentices (13%).”

A lack of industry training was another point of difficulty in the Manufacturing industry. Some 23% of employers in manufacturing cited this as a reason, compared with 10% of employers recruiting for apprentices across all industries. Recruitment was also found to be more of an issue for employers outside capital cities.

Other factors may also have been in play. As noted in VDC News articles a number of times before, there has been a “reduced appeal of apprenticeships, including a perceived push towards attending university, as well as more students staying on in secondary school rather than exiting to an apprenticeship.”

Methods of recruitment used

It was reported that the methods used by employers to recruit varies across industries. For example, the spotlight report noted that “employers in the Construction and Other Services industries were more likely to use word-of-mouth to hire apprentices. These two industries also appear to be much more likely to take advantage of job seekers approaching them directly as a way of filling their apprenticeships, compared with the Manufacturing industry.” Indeed, “word of mouth was … a popular method when seeking new apprentices, with 37% of businesses seeking apprentices using this as a method to recruit. Around 15% of employers recruiting apprentices relied on job seekers approaching them directly, compared to 8% for all recruiting employers.”

Finally, the paper reported that, while online jobs boards were the most commonly used method to recruit, employers tended to use this method less when recruiting for apprentices while 13% of employers recruiting for apprentices advertised at educational institutions, well above the average of 2% for all employers.

There’s lots of good information in the paper. It’s well worth a look if you want more detail than the summary provided here in this article.