Retaining apprentices is more important than ever before

Ron Maxwell, VERTO CEO is urging employers to consider the importance of retaining apprentices.

Ron Maxwell, VERTO CEO is urging employers to consider the importance of retaining apprentices.

With thousands of job cuts due to the COVID-19 pandemic beginning to affect our region, Forbes VERTO CEO Ron Maxwell has written about the importance of retaining apprentices.

There's no doubting that the impacts of COVID-19 have reached every industry. In our trades, where a large proportion of the operators are small businesses, many have seen a significant downturn. These small businesses play an important role in developing the next generation and ensuring a strong future for their industries and the communities in which they live and work.

Through apprenticeships, they ensure continuity of skilled workers for critical industries, like construction. It's crucial that we keep growing this workforce, particularly because many of our trades were already facing skills shortages before this all began.

It is my hope that employers can see the value of retaining their apprentices because we will need a robust and skilled workforce to rebuild our economy.

The Australian Government recently demonstrated a commitment to the future of our apprentices with their stimulus package, announcing wage subsidies and financial support that will help around 70,000 businesses to retain 117,000 apprentices.

It's not just about the impact on individual employees and small businesses; it's about the broader impact on our economic future. A recent study found that apprenticeships will play a significant role in rebuilding the US economy and that the current downturn could provide a window of opportunity to develop the skills that will be required when it eases. While I haven't yet seen a similar Australian report, it rings true here at home too.

Retaining apprentices will also help to stave off detrimental skills shortages across our trade industries. Imagine the impact if we don't have any new or continuing apprentices in 2020. We may not feel it immediately, but you can guarantee it will make critical services harder to come by in the years to come.

It is also important to remember that it was only in January this year that we saw many regions devastated by bushfires, and by-and-large, rebuilding has not begun. When we've put the worst of COVID-19 behind us, we will need skilled workers to address immediate needs as well as future ones.

Put simply, a lack of apprentices today means a lack of skills tomorrow.

Retaining apprentices also helps to support Australia's vocational education and training (VET) sector, which will be needed more than ever as we look to rebuild the economy.

If we don't keep this sector strong despite the downturn, we risk seeing a skills lag; a period of time where qualified workers in key industries, including construction, community services, and healthcare, are in dire shortage.

Making use of government support to retain your apprentices makes sense to prepare your business to play its role in our recovery. It also makes sense for the future of our industries, our youth, and our communities. If you are looking for support to start or retain your apprentice, contact the VERTO Apprenticeships team on 1300 VERTO or info@verto.org.au to find out how we can help.