Individual-based completion rates for apprentices

By Tom Karmel Technical Paper 9 May 2011 ISBN 978 1 921809 85 9

Description

Low completion rates for apprentices and trainees have received considerable attention recently and it has been argued that NCVER seriously understates completion rates. In this paper Tom Karmel uses NCVER data on recommencements to estimate individual-based completion rates. It is estimated that around one-quarter of trade apprentices swap employers during their apprenticeship. Taking this into account, Karmel estimates completion rates for individuals, ranging from 39.2% for the food trades to 64.2% for electrotechnology and telecommunications trades workers. He notes that employer churn is an issue, with the worst occupations being hairdressing and the food trades.

Summary

About the research

Low completion rates for apprenticeships and traineeships have been receiving considerable attention in recent times. The rates published by the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) relate to contracts of training and do not take into account the fact that some individuals who fail to complete their apprenticeship or traineeship with one employer may continue their training with another employer. Therefore it has been argued that NCVER seriously understates the completion rates.

NCVER's approach is driven by the structure of the administrative data it collects. However, in recent times NCVER has collected some data on recommencements; that is, when an individual recommences his or her apprenticeship/traineeship with a new employer. These data have been used by Tom Karmel to estimate completion rates for individuals who commence and subsequently complete in the same occupation (as distinct from contract completion rates).

Key messages

  • Around one-quarter of trade apprentices swap employers during their apprenticeship.
  • Individual completion rates relating to individuals for the commencing cohort in 2005 are around 56.6% (on Karmel's estimate) compared with 45.6% on a contract-of-training basis. The completion rates for individuals range from 39.2% for the food trades, to 64.2% for electrotechnology and telecommunications trades workers.

While these new estimates show that completion rates for individuals are considerably higher than the rates calculated for contracts, they also show that employer churn is an issue, with the worst occupations being hairdressing and the food trades.

Tom Karmel
Managing Director, NCVER

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