It’s reporting season for NCVER, so we have data on competition and attrition rates for apprentices and trainees.

They have also released data on their experiences and destinations.

It’s been a busy time!

Over the last few issues of VDC News we have looked at total and Government funded VET activity and VET in schools issues, and we will look at the VET in schools numbers next issue.

Arguably, though, apprentices and trainees are the most recognised component of what the VET sector does. First, let’s take a look at completion and attrition rates for 2019. This is, of course, all prior to COVID-19. Then we’ll take a brief look at their experiences and destinations.

Completions and attrition

This statistical report: ‘Completion and attrition rates for apprentices and trainees

2019’ looks at the final completion rates for apprentices and trainees that began in 2015. Completion rates of particular groups were variously slightly up or down when compared with those who began in 2014. Overall, however, individual completion rates for all occupations were 56.8%, down slightly, while those for trades occupations stood at 56.2%, up very slightly. Non-trades completions stood at 57.7% and were more or less steady. The report also supplies data on individual and contract completion rates. These latter contract completions are routinely lower, and the differences between the two are higher for the trades than non-trades. Just so you know, the individual completion rates are adjusted with a recommencement factor and are probably a better reflection of the real completion rates, especially when an original contract has not been able to be completed for some reason, and:

“The largest recommencement adjustment factors (indicating the highest levels of recommencements and movement between employers) were for apprenticeships and traineeships in hairdressing, construction, food trades and ICT professionals.”

There’s lots of other useful information in this report, especially if you are interested in looking at the completions and attritions for particular occupational groups based on their ANZSCO code. For 2015, individual completion rates were relatively high (at 65%+) for hospitality, retail and service managers; design, engineering, science and transport professionals; ICT professionals (at 77.8%); carers and aids; sports and personal service workers and general clerical workers.

The report also includes projected contract completion and attrition rates of those commencing in 2017, 2018 and 2019, which – of course – will undoubtedly be affected by the pandemic. The report also has data on attrition rates by year of commencement starting at 2013 and running until 2016. For 2015 the highest rates of attrition (60%+) are seen in food trades workers and hairdressers.

The other interesting thing to look at is the time at which cancellation or withdrawal from the apprenticeship or traineeship occurred, whether in the same, first or second quarter or in the first, second, third or a subsequent year of training.

Experiences and destinations

According to the ‘Apprentice and trainee experience and destinations 2019’ report, completing your trade is a good thing, with 91.5% employed after completing training, and 88.9% satisfied with their apprenticeship or traineeship overall. The picture is less rosy for the trades non-completers, but even then, 74% were employed after training, but their satisfaction level with the experience was much lower at 51.9%.

For non-trades workers, “85.0% of non-trade completers were employed after training, down from 91.7% in 2008” and 88% were satisfied with their training overall, up from 2008. Non-trades workers who were non-completers, like their tradie counterparts, saw 73.4% employed and only 48.4% satisfaction. So, we really need to look at why the satisfaction levels are so low, relatively.

The report found that tradies enter the field because want a job, but they particularly want that sort of job, and want a recognised qualification. They leave before completion most often because they didn’t get on with the boss or others at work, or they were made redundant. In fact, TDA News reported on a recent paper released by NCVER which found that “during 2019, 26.9% of traditional trade apprentices witnessed bullying, with females (49.6%) far more likely to witness the behaviour than males (24.1%). The highest incidence of reported bullying was in Food Trades (43.6%) and ‘Other traditional trades’ (41.7%)”.

For the non-trades, the picture is slightly different. They did the training because it was a requirement of their work, or they wanted a qualification. If they left before completing, this was most likely because they left the job, changed career or got a better job.

OK, a bit of a focus on apprentices and trainees in this issue, with this article and the other highlighting a paper by Business NSW (LINK needed). There is more to come next time with a follow up article focused on that recently released NCVER report we highlighted above on traditional trade apprenticeships and their experiences and outcomes.