Remember the good old days when the young weren’t averse to a hard day’s yakka? When getting your hands dirty and working up a sweat was just part of the day? Even though every generation laments the days of old and thinks that the present youth are getting softer, it would appear that this is truer than ever before.
It would appear that even though youth unemployment rates in parts of NSW are above 20%, young Sydneysiders still aren’t prepared to enter into lucrative plumbing and bricklaying careers because of the stigma attached which labels these as ‘dirty jobs’.
Many employers are battling to fill apprentice positions in these industries as more than 90,000 people in NSW (51,000 in Sydney alone) between 15 – 24 of age were listed as being unemployed in February 2015.
It’s time to sound the alarm! Australian Vocational Education and Training statistics show apprentices down by 18 per cent nationally between September 2013 to September 2014, whilst the number had fallen by 28 per cent in NSW.
It’s all about dirt quotient. And it seems like the Group Training Associate of NSW chief executive, Naomi Dinnen agrees.
“We find with trades like electricians a lot want to apply because they hear the money is so good,” she said.
“But they don’t understand (that) by laying bricks you can make a real go of it, eventually run your own business and make significant money.”
Ms Dinnen says there needs to be a broad discussion about apprenticeships and trades whereas currently there is too much emphasis on Universities.
“We see this big push towards Universities that has impeded how trades are talked about in schools,’’ she said.
“More needs to be done to promote other options outside of tertiary education.”
It’s a sad indictment on today’s youth if we are going to remain in the belief that they simply don’t want to get their hands dirty. The University of Sydney’s Workplace Research Centre director John Buchanan suggested that more discussions were needed between educators and employers because some employers wanted highly-skilled apprentices for their workplaces.
“There has been a failure of employers and educators to have intermediary discussions about the best ways to have youths ready for these sorts of work,” he said.
The solution seems to be centred in conversation. Greater communication about the perks of these lucrative industries, less emphasis on university being the only real aim for students and employers being more willing to take on first-year apprentices would surely bridge the gap in unemployment numbers.