Release type: Media Release


New figures show increased uptake in Apprenticeships

A growing number of people are commencing vocational education and training according to new data released by the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER), with 35,945 trade and non-trade commencements in the December 2017 quarter.

The release of Apprentices and trainees 2017: December quarter shows that at the end of last year, there were 256,140 apprentices and trainees in-training across Australia.

Assistant Minister for Vocational Education and Skills, Karen Andrews MP said despite the overall number of apprentices in training being down slightly compared with the end of 2016, there is early evidence of an increased uptake of apprenticeships and traineeships.

“What the data shows is an increasing number of people are moving into apprenticeships compared to the end of 2016 and there are positive results in occupations like construction and mechanical trades,” Assistant Minister Andrews said.

“Overall commencements increased in the December quarter by 7.6 per cent compared with the December quarter 2016, climbing from around 33,400 to 35,900 and the results in the trades were even stronger with commencements up by 9.3 per cent to 15,600.

“That means we’ve now seen two consecutive quarters of such growth in trade apprenticeship commencements, as September 2017 figures were 4.4 per cent up on the same period in the previous year and this is good news. This is imperative to maintain whilst at the same time to increase completions.

Non-trade commencements also grew by 6.3 per cent to 20,300 new apprentices, while the total number of cancellations and withdrawals for the period dropped by 1.5 per cent.

Overall apprentice numbers for the December 2017 quarter were down by 2.8 per cent compared with the end of 2016.

Minister Andrews said it is increasingly important for states and territories to look at innovative programs to grow the number of apprentices and support them to continue through their training into the workforce.

“The Australian Government has put $1.5 billion on the table through the Skilling Australians Fund, to be matched dollar for dollar by the states – that’s $3 billion to turn around the decline we’ve seen in apprentice and trainee numbers since 2012.

“Separate analysis shows increases in automotive and engineering trades workers commencements (up 20.9%) and construction trades workers (up 12.3%) and those in full-time training compared with the December quarter 2016,” Assistant Minister Andrews said.

“There have been increases in apprentices and trainee commencements for those aged 24 years and under and those employed in the private sector, while there was a drop in Sales Assistants, Salespersons and Food Trades Workers commencements.”

The data release Australian vocational education and training statistics: Apprentices and trainees 2017 – December quarter is available from