Today public policy institute McKell released its highly anticipated report into the Victorian apprenticeship system - and it bolsters Young Workers Centre's calls for more rigorous regulation and better protections for our apprentices.
The McKell Institute report ‘Working, Learning - Better supporting Victorian apprentices on the job’ into the Victorian apprenticeship system recommends greater accountability for employers, better support for apprentices, and more rigorous regulation.
Why we need change
Given the growing demand for apprenticeships, and the Victorian Government’s positive investment in providing more than 70 free TAFE courses, the Young Workers Centre is calling for urgent action to ensure apprentices receive the instruction, support, respect and safety they need for their on-the-job training.
There is currently no appropriate vetting system for employers to hire apprentices, little to no regulation of employers, and no system in place to identify or punish repeat offenders who mistreat their apprentices and/or commit wage theft.
Young Workers Centre (YWC) has revealed that complaints from apprentices have now risen to 1 in 2 of their ongoing clients. Key legal complaints include bullying, unsafe working conditions, poor training, insufficient supervision and wage theft. Exploitation and abuse is being reported across all sectors – from hairdressing and hospitality to construction and beyond.
Apprenticeship completion rates in Victoria are at just 52%. Fewer than 20,000 Victorian apprentices completed their training in each of the years just prior to the pandemic. This is also leading to a serious decline in the skills development in certain key occupations in Victoria.
How we make change happen
The Young Workers Centre is calling on the Victorian Government to change how we regulate the apprenticeship system. YWC activists like Alia, Audrey and Jae have been joining with others to campaign, sharing their stories with media, holding community meetings and running online actions. The Megaphone petition, created by a former apprentice boilermaker Jae Wassell, has attracted over 8000 signatures - add your name to it here.