News & Views

8th March 2016

Apprentice Stats Highlight Need for Mature Wage Apprentice Subsidy

07 Mar 2016

Further declines in apprentice in-training commencements, particularly in the 25 years and over age groups, highlights the need for a Mature Age Apprentice Subsidy, says the Chief Executive Officer of the National Electrical and Communications Association, Mr Suresh Manickam.

For the end of the September quarter 2015, the number of apprentices and trainees in-training has decreased by 13.7% from the same point last year whilst there was a 19.3% decline in new apprentice and new trainee commencements, to 36,000 in the September quarter, compared with a year ago. Of these 36,000, 16,100 were trade commencements with the largest decline in the ‘25 years and over’ group of 13.9%.

“Whilst it’s disappointing to see yet another drop in the take up of trade commencements, NECA is very concerned about the drop off in the 25-44 year and 45 years plus age brackets,” said Mr Manickam.

“The typical spike in commencements at the start of each year for younger groups hasn’t materialised for the over 45 year olds. That’s a major concern for the electrical contracting sector given future skills shortages arising from the retirements of long term electricians and contractors and the lower take up of electrical apprenticeships.”

“NECA believes that mature age apprentices represent a real opportunity to reduce Australia’s skills shortage and enrich our sector. It is in this context that we have called upon the Government to introduce a Mature Age Apprentice Subsidy that would seek to assist mature age apprentices from being priced out of the jobs marketplace,” Mr Manickam said.

“Generally speaking, mature age apprentices are valuable to an employer as their past workplace experience provides an important workplace balance.”

“With apprenticeship commencements continuing to decline, our nation really needs to tap into greater resource pools for reskilling, cross-skilling and up-training. A subsidy to attract employers to hire more mature age apprentices will help to achieve this goal.”


Media enquiries and interviews

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Notes for editors

  1. NECA is the peak industry body representing the interests of electrical and communications contractors Australia-wide.
  2. NECA is run by electrical contractors, for electrical contractors.
  3. We have 5,000 contracting companies as members – and they in turn employ over 50,000 people Australia-wide.
  4. NECA employs almost 350 people across its seven chapters (Queensland, New South Wales, ACT, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and Western Australia).
  5. The chapters provide NECA members with a range of services including: Industrial Relations, Health & Safety, Legal, Technical, Training, business-support services, product discounts and advocacy representation in Canberra with Government, Industry bodies and Training bodies.
  6. NECA wholly-owns its Legal firm, Group Training and the NECA Colleges (in WA) and EcoSmart Electricians – and has joint ventures with a superannuation company (NSW) and one of the national cabling registrars (ACRS).
  7. NECA also employ around 2,000 apprentice electricians and provides training to a further 2,000.
  8. For further information go to

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