The construction industry is the largest industry in Western Australia and employs tens of thousands of people but attracting new people to the industry is a challenge faced around the country.
One way that the state aims to attract and train skilled workers is through the Construction Training Fund (CTF). The fund was established in 1990 and has sinced helped 48,000 apprentices and trainees and over 340,000 industry workers upgrade their skills.
The CTF recently announced a $4000 incentive to further drive recruitment and training of construction apprentices in collaboration with the Housing Industry Association (HIA).
Remember everyone who enters the construction site for work must complete general construction induction training known as The White Card course to ensure they know how to ‘Work Safely in The Construction Industry’.
The CFMEU has called for mandatory national training on asbestos safety for apprentices and tradies, similarly to the mandatory White Card training that all construction workers must undergo.
A Curtin University study revealed that three out of four tradespeople could not identify asbestos in the workplace, increasing their risk of exposure. Because many Australian buildings still have asbestos and it is also illegally imported into the country, it is crucial that we know how to identify it, and what to do if we come across it.
This prompted the unions call who also urged the State and Federal Governments as well as the sector to tackle the lack of regulation in the building industry which they say is putting lives at risk.
The CFMEU says we need national, mandatory training for all apprentices to make them aware of the dangers and how to safely handle asbestos.
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%).