Data released by the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) has confirmed the Coalition’s strong record on skills and training, with trade apprenticeships hitting a new record high in March 2022.

The latest data from NCVER shows there were 387,830 apprentices and trainees in-training as at 31 March 2022, 17.1 per cent higher than at the same time in 2021. It found apprentice and trainee commencements increased to 85,470 in the March quarter 2022, the highest quarterly level since June 2012, a time when Labor’s disastrous skills policies were being widely rorted.

NCVER’s data confirmed the number of trade apprentices in-training hit a new record high in the final months of the Coalition Government—234,280 in March 2022. This exceeded the previous record high of 220,000 delivered by the Coalition Government in 2021.

Significantly, NCVER attributed the ongoing strength of the state of the Australian skills sector to the former Coalition Government’s policies with the Managing Director Simon Walker noting the strong performance “reflects the ongoing financial support available through the Boosting Apprenticeship Commencements wage subsidy, which has been extended to the end of June 2022”.

The Coalition budgeted for ongoing record investment in skills this year including;

• $2.4 billion from 1 July 2022 to upskill apprentices by making employers eligible for 10 per cent wage subsidies in the first two years of hiring a new apprentice and a further 5 per cent in the third year;
• An extra $3.7 billion for skills training that could support an additional 800,000 training places through a new National Skills Agreement, and;
• The Skills and Training Boost, allowing small businesses with annual turnover less than $50 million to access a new bonus 20 per cent deduction for the cost of external training courses delivered by registered training providers.

Deputy Leader of the Opposition and Shadow Minister for Industry, Skills and Training Sussan Ley said NCVER’s official update was another warning to the Albanese Government to honour investments for skills, apprenticeships and trainees in full or risk these figures becoming a high-water mark.

“Today’s data demonstrates the Coalition delivered record high numbers of apprentices taking up trades, it shows we got the skills and industry settings right and it is proof-positive that Mr Albanese should keep our policies in place,” the Deputy Leader said.

“Mr Albanese’s plans to abolish our construction industry watchdog and balance his budget by cutting skills and industry programs are deeply concerning and will be catastrophic for our country’s efforts to meet the workforce challenges before us.

“As Australia faces a darkening global environment now is not the time to short change Aussie skills in the Budget.”