Finding the truth in the apprenticeships debate


Finding the truth in the apprenticeships debate

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The term ‘apprenticeship’ is often used in relation to both apprenticeships and traineeships, creating a misleading picture of the state of the two systems.  This report debunks some high profile claims of Australia experiencing an apprenticeship crisis and shows that in some cases, apprenticeship commencements are growing.

Differences between apprenticeships and traineeships. Apprenticeships are mostly traditional trades whereas traineeships were developed to reduce youth unemployment. Apprenticeships are typically a four year contract of training whereas traineeships are typically a one year or less contract of training. Examples of apprenticeships include commercial cookery, carpentry, hairdressing, plumbing and electrical. Examples of traineeships include retail, hospitality, administration, childcare and aged care.

What is the real story behind apprenticeships?

Our analysis uses National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) data to separate commencements in trade (mostly apprenticeships) and non‐trade (mostly traineeships) training courses. We have found that when looking at trades alone, the apparent decline in ‘apprenticeship’ commencements is not nearly as serious as most claims suggest.

Trade (apprenticeship) vs. non-trade (traineeship) commencements 1995-2016

Trade (apprenticeship) vs. non-trade (traineeship) commencements 1995-2016


  • Peter Noonan

    Peter Noonan

  • Sarah Pilcher

    Sarah Pilcher