News & Views

18th April 2017

NECA supports industry calls for apprenticeship action

22 Mar 2017

The National Electrical and Communications Association (NECA) supports calls from three peak business bodies for decisive Government action on Australia’s apprenticeship system, says CEO Suresh Manickam.

Mr Manickam’s remarks followed the joint release of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), Ai Group and the Business Council of Australia, calling upon the Government to avert a crisis in the apprenticeship system to ensure that the number of Australians commencing and completing apprenticeships does not continue to decline.

Figures released by the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) for the September 2016 quarter continue to show a year-on-year decline with 278,500 apprentices and trainees in-training at September 30, 2016. Whilst Electrotechnology remains one of more widely commenced and completed apprenticeships, the take up of trades has fallen by more than 10,000 since the same point last year and by 20,000 since 2011.

“A key challenge for the electrical contracting sector as we move towards the next decade is the critical supply of skilled electrical workers. With the retirement of highly skilled and long-term workers, not enough places are being filled by the next generation of up and coming apprentices,” Mr Manickam said.

“NECA has strongly supported reforms made to the Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector by this Government which has started to turn around the mess of the former VET FEE-HELP system, whilst removing rogue training providers that failed the industry.”

“However, we agree that more needs to be done in order to ensure that pathways can continue to be accessed by potential apprentices across all age groups. In particular, the ongoing falls in the take-up of adult or mature age apprenticeships should be a wake-up call to Government that proper incentives are required to attract small business to hire mature workers. NECA’s 2016 Policy Statement called upon the Government to support employers who employ adult apprentices through the provision of a wage subsidy that matches the difference between the hourly rate of a junior apprentice and adult apprentice across each year stage.”

“We urge the Government to create a more streamlined national apprenticeship system that removes waste and duplication across state and territory borders, a stronger employer and industry focus to apprenticeship creation, and proper incentives to ensure that mature age workers can be retrained whilst their experience and knowledge can be put to good use, thus helping industry and the national economy in the process,” Mr Manickam concluded.


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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 RTOs and GTOs in NSW, VIC & WA, the EcoSmart Electricians initiative and ACRS – one of the national cabling registrars, and has a joint venture with a superannuation company in NSW (NESS Super).
  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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