Australia’s society, along with the workforce, is undoubtedly ageing. As the retirement of the baby boomer generation nears, a decreased labour supply is expected over coming years.
This raises concerns about the short-medium term impact of an ageing workforce in the building industry, in particular, a shortage of skilled and experienced workers. Therefore, training building industry apprentices for the future is integral for the long-term viability and profitability of many businesses.
A number of skills learned on the job and transferred from worker to another, and it’s safe to anticipate that a large proportion of skilled trades will age out of the workforce in the next 2 to 5 years, and do so in rapid succession, which could affect the transfer of knowledge from one generation to the next.
Recent apprenticeship statistics released show an alarming decline in overall apprentice and trainee numbers. Apprentice commencements declined by more than 10% in the last 12 months and more than 40% over the past 4 years!
If this low apprentice commencement trend isn’t rectified the building industry will be facing serious skill shortages in the very near future. The industry needs to start investing in apprentices now to ensure that we continue to have quality tradespeople in the industry.
Many businesses are not considering the positive implications of taking on an apprentice and as a result, we are seeing the effects of the reduced intake of apprentices over the last few years. We have a number of employers calling us and asking if we have a good 3rd-year apprentice as they need someone with some skills. But the reality is that there isn’t because the industry wasn’t hiring apprentices 3 years ago.
An ageing workforce means retention of job-related skills, expertise and experience are an imperative for the future. If your business is reliant on subcontractors there could be very real implications. To minimise the implications I encourage today’s tradespeople to help the transfer of knowledge through hosting and mentoring an apprentice. Without appropriate planning and intervention, the industry will not be able to replenish those exiting the trades with a newly trained workforce.
Now is the perfect time to hire an apprentice that you can train from the ground up, the way you operate without any bad habits picked up elsewhere. Quality applicants have recently left school or pre-apprenticeships and in need of the training that only good trades people and committed businesses can give.
If you are looking for an onsite apprentice or perhaps an office trainee, get in touch with HIA. We’ve already done all the hard work for you to ensure you get the top picks of quality candidates. For more information phone HIA Apprentices on 1300 650 620.