It goes without saying that apprentices on high risk work sites such as construction sites are at a higher risk of injury and/or illnesses than other workers due to their inexperience and often times naievity.
With the current shortage of skilled construction workers in Australia, it is important that young people are attracted to the industry to complete apprenticeships and fill the growing skills gap.
The first step in getting apprentices to understand the importance of safety on a construction site is general construction induction training, safety training in the form of the White Card.
Employers need to understand that when it comes to providing a safe work environment and system of work for apprentices, a mandatory requirement of all employers to all workers, it may require more effort and consideration than it would for other, more experienced workers.
Leaving apprentices to their own devices on a dangerous construction site before they are ready is possibly the worst thing a contractor can do for that young person’s safety. Although these apprentices may not technically be your employee, especially if you are hosting them through a training programme, the need to provide them with a safe work environment and system of work remains.
In addition to them undergoing mandatory site specific induction training, which the employer must provide, workers must also complete general construction induction training known as The White Card course.
This course is mandatory and can be completed easily and affordably online, which young people will probably prefer to a long and boring, face-to-face training course.
In a recent article on TheConversation.com.au our need to arrest the decline in apprenticeships is highlighted. According to the latest apprentice figures from the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) in September there has been a significant decline in the number of people starting and completing apprenticeships.
Compared with the previous 12-month period, apprenticeship and traineeship commencements between March 2014 to March 2015 decreased by 19.8%.
Over this period, apprenticeship and traineeship completions also dropped an alarming 19.4%. A report on completion and attrition rates released earlier this year predicted already low completion rates for apprentices and trainees to decline further. For apprentices and trainees commencing in 2014, completions were predicted to fall to 41.4% in trades and 57.5% in non-trades occupations.
As the construction industry continues to flourish across the nation, previously apprehensive employers are seeking apprentices to train in various construction skills and trades. It is crucial that these workers first undergo White Card training before they are allowed onto a building site. By ensuring workers are supported and given the necessary tools and training to remain safe, productive and happy on the work site, we will hopefully see less of the disturbing completion rates,
Completion rates for apprentices and trainees vary by industry and by occupation. Completions tend to be lower in occupations such as hairdressing (31% completion), construction and mining labouring (27%) and in automotive and engineering trades work (40.3%).
Read more about the apprentice shortage here.