||Issue No. 231||30 July 2004|
Interview: Power and the Passion
Unions: Tackling the Heavy Hitters
Industrial: Seeing the Forest For The Wood
Housing: Home Truths
International: Boycott Busters
Economics: Ideology and Free Trade
History: Long Shadow of a Forgotten Man
Review: Chewing the Fat
Poetry: Dear John
The Locker Room
Tom On Alienation
Apprentice Crisis Worsens
Figures released this week show 170,000 tradespeople will leave the workforce in the next five years while only 40,000 will enter - and in the past year government figures reveal a 20 percent jump in trades vacancies.
The government's 'New Apprenticeships' program is being blamed for the problem with the worst hit trades in printing, metal and electrical work.
Less than a third of the apprentices in the program are in traditional trades - two thirds are trainees in areas such as hospitality.
The government's $4125 incentive is given to employers of one-year trainees and four-year apprenticeships - turning off traditional tradespeople from taking on juniors.
Poor apprentice wages is also a problem with an 18-year-old manufacturing apprentice earning $100 less a week than a fast food junior.
Local and state governments used to turn out thousands of electrical tradesmen from workshops every year.
In the 1970s, outfits like State Rail and Sydney City Council would each offer opportunities to 400 youngsters every year.
The private sector keenly snapped up the finished product.
But with the rush to privatise government enterprises in the 1980s came accountants who transformed apprentices from investments into costs.
Some unions, such as the Electrical Trades Union and the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union set up training centres in the early 1990's to address the skills shortage.
The ETU created a non-profit company, Electro Group, with the sole business of employing apprentices.
By sending apprentices to "host" employers for periods of a few weeks to 12 months, the non-profit company reduces the burden of taking on apprentices for employers.
Electro Group currently employs 300 apprentices.
CEO Norm Cahill says Electro Group is "future proofing" the electrical industry against the short sighted views of the past.
Comet Training was the body the CFMEU's initiated to give apprentices a start in the building industry.
Construction and general division state secretary, Andrew Ferguson, called on the Federal Government to increase subsidies to employers to make it easier to train youngsters.
"The demographics in the industry, especially for bricklayers and carpenters, are frightening because kids are just not getting a start," says Ferguson.
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