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Work Life

Why Don't Young Australians Want to Do Apprenticeships Anymore?

"A lot of them don’t like to work hard or don’t respect the trade."

The number of people doing trade apprenticeships in Australia has halved in the past five years, and it appears many older people have strong ideas about why this is, ranging from laziness to lack of courtesy to young people's inability to get off their damn phones.

As shown by new data from the National Centre for Vocational Education Research, only 57,100 people were in traineeships or apprenticeships in 2017. A number so low, points out, it’s on the same statistical level as last century. What do actual tradies think? According to 4BC talkshow host Ben Davis, who discussed the shortage on his show yesterday afternoon, the general consensus amid tradies is that young people aren't prepared to get their hands dirty.

“One of the biggest problems I’ve seen was a lot of them [young people] don’t like to work hard or don’t respect the trade,” a tradie named Matt told Davis. “They don’t even turn up on time … we are breeding a bunch of softies. I just think it’s a lack of respect."

Paul Hillberg, the general manager of Apprenticeships Queensland, told that the shortage of trainees in Queensland was real, but the statistics weren't as alarming as they first appeared because they included other types of trades such as hairdressing and baking. On the other hand, "We’ve definitely seen a change in the culture where younger people are in constant contact with their friends and family … We’ve had quite a few employers get in touch and say they’re struggling to keep them off their phone. They’re often lacking a propensity to work.

"Some things that might’ve been seen as a basic courtesy aren’t seen that way by some anymore," Hillberg added. "There’s a certain level of behaviour we expect, but we’ve realised common courtesy actually isn’t that common."