Rising confidence good news for Cairns apprentices
BUILDING apprenticeships are on the rise after being in the doldrums for four years.
Tropical North Queensland TAFE director Joann Pyne said growing confidence in the building industry had led to a stabilisation in apprenticeship training at TAFE.
She said apprenticeship numbers, which declined dramatically after the global financial crisis, had slowly started to rise and remained stable.
"It is heartening to see confidence in our region beginning to grow again," Ms Pyne said.
"Although there is still a long way to go before we see the levels of pre-global-financial-crisis confidence, these figures show the trade industry is beginning to feel more buoyed," she said.
Electrical apprenticeships at the TAFE have risen by 11 per cent in the past 12 months, while a steep decline in plumbing apprenticeships post-2009 has steadied and is beginning to turn around. Brick/block-laying apprenticeships are also stabilising, with enrolments between December 2011 and the same period in 2012 remaining around 10.
Ms Pyne said other trade-related programs, including engineering qualifications and diesel fitting, had experienced more constant numbers in the past four years, which could be attributed to the mining boom.
"The number of boiler making apprentices peaked in June 2009 with more than 170 apprenticeships, before sliding down 21 per cent to less than 140 apprenticeships and again peaking in June 2012 to more than 160 enrolments," Ms Pyne said.
"Other courses like sheet metal and automotive have remained constant, with smaller peaks and troughs in enrolments between 2008 and 2012."
Extrastaff Apprenticeships area manager David Collins said sectors of the construction industry were doing well, with some builders thriving while others were "really quiet".
"There is a sense of an upswing which is just in its infancy. If employers feel a sense of change they need to seriously look at recruiting and training needs now," he said.
Taylor Humphreys, who has been a plumbing apprentice for three-and-a-half years, said it was a good trade career that he enjoyed.
The 19-year-old, who works at the Cairns Regional Council, said he quickly picked up tricks of the trade.
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Fast learner: Taylor Humphreys, 19, is three-and-a-half years through his plumbing apprenticeship and says he has quickly picked up the tricks of the trade. Picture: TOM LEE