Media Release — Apprenticeships Taskforce a win for tradies, industry and state

Establishing a taskforce in Victoria to improve the work lives of apprentices is a win for the industry and state, according to The McKell Institute.

In its pitch to voters ahead of the state election, Labor has announced it would establish an Apprenticeships Taskforce to make sure tradespeople are working in fair and safe environments.

The taskforce would involve workers, unions and industry.

It would consider ways to improve regulatory arrangements, training plans, screening processes, complaint reporting, enforcement for apprentices encountering mistreatment, and employer accountability.

A report by the McKell Institute released in September recommended policy makers and regulators increase the voice of Victorian apprentices in their deliberations to ensure their issues are considered and addressed.

The Institute also suggested employers should be properly held accountable for the bad on-the-job experiences of their apprentices, and have approvals revoked if they breach safety laws.

The McKell Institute CEO Michael Buckland said a taskforce would create a layer of oversight that is desperately required to improve workplace culture and safety for people starting their careers.

“In Victoria, the number of apprentices and trainees has declined significantly over the last decade. Thankfully, we’re starting to see this trend reverse but measures like an Apprenticeships Taskforce will help speed up the process,” he said.

“It’s encouraging to see workers would be involved in the proposed taskforce. Apprentices’ voices are vital in shaping better workplaces, and boosting workforce numbers and retention rates.

“We know that apprentices are vulnerable to being bullied, harassed, subjected to dangerous conditions, and underpaid. This exploitation creates toxic workplace cultures and fuels workforce shortages, as those who are subjected to it are less likely to finish their apprenticeship.

“Apprentices are building Victoria’s future. We need to make sure they have fair and safe workplaces so they feel encouraged to work on the projects of tomorrow.”