The construction industry in Australia has always been a vital sector, contributing significantly to the country’s GDP and economic growth. Similarly, the Australian Apprenticeship System has been vital to the construction industry, delivering a pipeline of skilled, trained individuals ready to commence their careers.
In recent years however, even though the construction industry has continued to boom, apprenticeship completion rates remain a key area of concern. National data reveals that just 54 per cent of trade apprentices who started in 2017 completed by the end of 2021, down from 57 per cent of those who started a year earlier. One in three now drop out in their first year.
“Given the critical skills shortage facing the industry, continually investing in attraction and retention solutions that support employers and apprentices is imperative,” says Melissa Stanford, Managing Director of Add Staff Group.
“We need to look at the issue collectively and consider the role of the employer, the apprentice and the VET industry holistically. As an example, a mentorship program can help connect apprentices with industry specialists who can provide them with guidance and support, but this requires employers to either have the capacity to run a program internally or to actively engage with an external provider such as Add Staff.”
Melissa also lists a focus on flexible working arrangements as a way to attract more apprentices to the industry, making the construction industry more attractive to aspiring apprentices seeking work / life balance.
“From an industry perspective, normalising the conversation around flexible working arrangements can create a competitive advantage for employers seeking to attract and retain apprentices within their business. It is important to understand that employees across the board are seeking the opportunity to manage a healthier work, life, balance.”
Similarly, providing apprentices with access to additional training and development opportunities can also help them to develop the skills they need to be successful in their careers. Showcasing clear career progression pathways for apprentices can also help them to see a future in the construction industry.
However one of the most important factors in improving apprentice retention rates is through the candidate attraction and selection process, ensuring the aspiring apprentice understands the trade and apprenticeship commitments.
“As an industry, it is important we are creating an attractive industry for candidates to be part of, and following a recruitment process that sets apprentices up for success,” says Melissa.
By implementing the above solutions, improvements to apprentice retention rates can be made, thus creating a more sustainable workforce for the construction industry in future.
About Add Staff Group
The Add Staff Group offers a range of recruitment solutions to Trades and Service-based Industries, particularly within the electrotechnology, construction and trades sectors.
The Add Staff Group incorporates a group of smaller businesses: Add Staff Recruitment, Add Staff Resourcing and Add Staff Apprenticeships. Based out of Brisbane and Melbourne, The Group delivers its services nationally in Australia.