Master Builders Queensland is urging companies not to sack apprentices when time get tough.
Master Builders Queensland is urging companies not to sack apprentices when time get tough. File

Apprentices defy national trend

UP to 100,000 Australian jobs are set to be slashed within the next 12 months, according to economists.

The nation's unsteady economy may see the unemployment rates soar in 2012.

And, when times are tough, it seems apprentices are the ones copping the boot, with many companies opting to sack their apprentices at the first sign of financial pressure.

Master Builders Queensland (MBQ) executive director Graham Cuthbert said the construction industry in particular needed to stop laying off apprentices.

"As soon as there's any downturn of any description we tend to lay off our apprentices," Mr Cuthbert said.

"The big issue is, it's an additional cost to employ an apprentice, so when things get tight financially, apprentices are the first to get laid off."

Mr Cuthbert said he had a key phrase he liked to remind people of when it came to deciding whether to sack an apprentice or not: "Our industry, our future, our responsibility," he said.

He said understanding these six words was fundamental for the future of our tradesmen.

"If we keep going like this, we will be looking at skill shortages in the future.

"The other side of it is, we need to make more attempts to employ apprentices."

Queensland are already feeling the unemployment pinch, with 10,000 workers out of a job in Brisbane alone.

"We lost 10,000 workers in Brisbane. Our industry is down 40% on construction," Mr Cuthbert said.

"There is a notable exception (with companies laying off apprentices), but a vast majority do lay apprentices off when things get tight.

"It's not a new phenomenon," he said.

But Donna Howard from Busy At Work Apprenticeship Services said despite the national scare, apprentices were still signing up in their numbers locally.

"In the month I get back from leave, I have 50 apprentices to sign up, just in January," Mrs Howard said.

"I have apprentices starting in logistics, carpentry, transport, vets, hairdressers, fitness, electricians, and a lot in agriculture.

"Also, we were in Southport the other week and they've got sign-ups coming out of their ears, so there still rolling in," she said.


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