Apprentices still out of work

Just 19 apprentices found ongoing employment through a jobs initiative, which ended on Sunday, falling well short of the target Regional Development Victoria set.

The State Government-funded program, ’50 Jobs in 50 Weeks’, began mid-last year following news from Apprenticeships Group Australia that 50 Gippsland apprentices could not obtain employment and aimed to help those apprentices by offering incentives to would-be employers.

An RDV spokesperson said the program offered a $4000 incentive payment and, despite the deadline finishing, the money was still available to any business which took on any of the remaining apprentices.

The Gippsland Trades and Labour Council was involved in promoting the program and secretary John Parker said the incentives had not worked as well as they had hoped.

“What we found was those people who picked (apprentices) up probably would have anyway – and these were the smaller companies, who operated with a conscience,” Mr Parker said.

“We were very disappointed by the bigger companies that didn’t seem to employ any apprentices.”

Mr Parker said GTLC was “not giving up” and would work with the State Government to find other ways of solving the problem of unemployed apprentices.

“Now we’re analysing what worked and what didn’t work,” Mr Parker said.

He said some alternatives could include enforcing a mandatory number of apprentices to work on certain big projects or creating projects specifically for apprentices to work on.

“We certainly need to do something,” he said

“The next generation has been left behind in my view and its essential we fix up (the problem).”

Mr Northe said although the incentives were a good tool to prompt employers, some employers were reluctant to put on additional staff because of economic uncertainty.

“It was always an ambitious program, but it was well worthwhile,” Mr Northe said.

“While we weren’t able to place the number of apprentices we would have liked, the apprentices who had this program at their disposal are appreciative of it.”