NCVER has published the latest data on the outcomes for apprentices and trainees. It provides a summary of apprentices’ and trainees’ reasons for training, their employment outcomes, further study outcomes and satisfaction with the apprenticeship or traineeship.

On another note, an international article in the Educational Research Review published by Elsevier looks at the reasons for dropout from the apprentices’ perspective.

Highlights of the apprentice and trainee stats

These latest NCVER stats show 94% of apprentices and trainees who completed their training in a trade occupation were employed after training. In non-trade occupations, the figure was 88.4%. Satisfaction was also high with over 90% of trade completers and non-trade completers being satisfied with the skills learnt on the job. Nearly 87% of trade completers and 91% of non-trade completers were satisfied with their off-the-job training.

Employer retention is up

2021 saw a higher proportion of employers retaining the apprentices and trainees they trained after they had completed, with the proportion of qualified apprentices and trainees employed with the same employer up 12.3 percentage points from 2019 for trade completers and 6.9 percentage points for non-trade completers. However, when they did change employers it was to go to a better job. Of those trade completers who changed employers in 2021, nearly 25% did so because they were offered a better job, compared with 14.5% in 2019, while for non-trade completers it increased to 24% in 2021 from around 18% in 2019.

Available resources

In addition to the statistical report ‘Apprentice and trainee outcomes 2021’ there is also an Infographic and a Databuilder, which enables users to filter the data based on a selection of variables. If trends are your thing, NCVER also provides a historical time series of apprentice and traineeship data in Australia from 1963 to 2021 in the form of Excel data tables or an Infographic.

An NCVER report published in mid 2021 looked at completion and attrition rates for apprentices and trainees, speaking of which…

The paper, entitled ‘Dropout from initial vocational training: a meta-synthesis of reasons from the apprentice’s point of view’ and authored by Svenja Bohn and Viola Deutscher from the University of Mannheim aimed to summarize cross-study and cross-sector findings about why apprentices drop out. While concentrated in Europe and especially German speaking countries, it also drew on literature from the US and Australia. In summary, and from the aggregated results of all the studies they looked at, they found an emphasis on learner factors on premature termination of contract over other factors related to the company, school [provider], or the apprentices’ work and learning activities. Cross-country differences appeared to be insignificant, and:

“the dropout probability increases with a low training wage, a training occupation not representing the apprentice’s dream job, an apprentice’s low education level, a poor performance level within training, a learning disability, increasing age and a migration background.”

The causes of dropout are diverse, and:

“a conglomerate of reasons [contribute], with an individual undergoing a decision-making process within VET where different options are weighed and finally making a decision about leaving the training prematurely.”

However, the authors also suggest that research has mainly searched for dropout drivers within the individual “instead of focusing on what educators and employers could improve.”

Maybe there is a policy lesson here and that is looking at ways to improve retention rather than offering more subsidies to employers and apprentices to ‘front load’ the system with more apprentices and trainees. Maybe we need to look harder at how to keep apprentices and trainees in training and look also at their post-training pathways? Just a thought!