News & Views

27th February 2018

26 February: Preventing a future skills shortage

The continuing decline in the number of students enrolling in electrical apprenticeships across Australia is a major concern and needs addressing urgently if we are to avoid a future skills shortage.


“Electricians are more and more in demand as technology becomes increasingly complex and integrated. Internally, we’re seeing the introduction of smart homes with interconnected electrical equipment controlled remotely from a single device such as a phone.


“Externally, as consumers seek to reduce their energy bills and their environmental footprint, they’re installing solar panels and battery storage systems,” said Suresh Manickam, CEO National Electrical & Communications Association (NECA).


High priority infrastructure projects  such as Melbourne’s Metro Rail upgrade, Western Sydney’s Airport (Badgery’s Creek), the Perth Freight Link and Queensland’s Ipswich Motorway will also require significant numbers of licenced electrical workers.

The drop in numbers of students applying for apprenticeship courses has declined steeply across the board with a 6.6 per cent decrease in the number of students in Australia undertaking government-funded training in the first nine months of 2017 compared to the same period in 2016*.

“NECA has said for a long time that we urgently need greater investment in vocational skills training to make the training more attractive to a greater diversity of students, along with support, in the form of incentives or tax relief, for employers who take on an apprentice,” said Manickam.

“As older, senior electricians retire, unless we address this issue now and heavily promote the benefits of a career in the electrical trades, there won’t be anyone coming up to replace them,” he added.


NECA has called upon government to actively promote trades career pathways as an attractive alternative to a University degree.


*NCVER Government –funded students and courses January to September 2017

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