Federal Budget shortchanges apprentices

Published: 12 May 2021

Construction apprentices will be shortchanged by a Federal Budget that does nothing to improve declining apprenticeship completion rates and the low take up of apprentices on government jobs, warns the CFMEU National Construction Division.

"This Budget is long on rhetoric but short on genuine investment in future generations of Australian workers," said Dave Noonan, CFMEU National Construction Secretary.

"The government has failed to address declining apprenticeship completion rates and the low take-up of apprentices on government infrastructure and building projects."

"While trumpeting an infrastructure investment package that appears to be largely made of previously announced projects, there is no evidence that the government has attached requirements to have a minimum number of apprentices included on government infrastructure projects."

"The Federal Government's stated support for apprentices is also completely undermined by its continued ban on apprenticeship ratios on infrastructure and federal construction jobs."

"If Morrison and Frydenberg were serious about supporting apprentices they would make appropriate apprenticeship ratios a condition of major infrastructure projects and all federal government building projects."

"The apprentice wage subsidy extended last night is limited to first year apprentices so will do little to support the completion of apprenticeships which have been declining for years."

"The latest data on construction apprenticeship completion rates reveals that less than half the people who commence an apprenticeship will complete it. Of the 22,220 people who commenced a construction apprenticeship in 2016 only around 10,650 had completed it by 2020. The data also reveals construction apprenticeship commencements were 23.5 per cent lower in 2020 compared to 2016."

"The Budget also locks in a long-term drop in spending in vocational education and training, while celebrating a short-term increase in spending in the next financial year. The budget papers reveal a 66.2 per cent decrease in investment in real terms on vocational education and training from 2021‑22 to 2024‑25."

"There is nothing in the Budget to fund the Victorian Government proposal for a purpose-built quarantine centre near Melbourne Airport. Hotel quarantine and low vaccination continue to be the biggest threat to health and economic recovery requiring national leadership and response."

“The Morrison Government has again failed to invest in social housing, showing its ideological disdain for measures that would address the housing crisis, create jobs and boost the economy.”