Apprentices Face High Risk of Drop-out at Conclusion of JobSeeker and JobKeeper


Young female looking sad

The Apprenticeship Employment Network (AEN) wants apprentices who have lost their jobs to sign up to the Retrenched Apprentices and Trainees Program (RATP) so they can be matched with a new employer and go on to complete their apprenticeship training. The program, run by the AEN and funded by the Victorian Government, has successfully facilitated 262 recommencements through partnerships with businesses and group training organisations (GTOs). 

AEN Executive Director, Gary Workman said, “Many employers have had to let go of their apprentices throughout the pandemic. Unfortunately, we expect to see a new wave of retrenchments in line with the end of JobKeeper payments. We want apprentices to know that if they find themselves unemployed, we are here to help them get a new job and continue their training.” 

The Federal Government’s recent announcement extending apprenticeship wage subsidies to 30 September 2021 is important for employers hiring new apprentices. However, it is vital that apprentices who lost their jobs during the pandemic are also supported to find a suitable new placement so they can complete their qualification. The AEN is calling on unemployed apprentices, from first years who had recently begun their training to final year apprentices about to become qualified skilled workers, to sign up to the RATP to be matched with a new job. 

“We know that many retrenched apprentices are keen to get back to work. In Victoria, on the day that lockdown restrictions were relaxed to allow retail, hairdressing and hospitality venues to reopen we registered 71 apprentices wanting support to get back into their on-the-job training,” Mr Workman said. 

“However,” Mr Workman said, “research shows that without targeted support, apprentices are very vulnerable to dropping out of their training entirely when an employment contract doesn’t work out. 60% of these dropouts occur in the first year of their training. The Retrenched Apprentices and Trainees Program aims to reach apprentices at this critical point so that they can complete their qualifications and become skilled workers.” 

Ali Rezayi is a third year electrotechnology apprentice who lost his job because of the pandemic, “I was let go because the business I was with didn’t have enough work to keep me on. For a few months I worked as a food delivery driver and went on JobSeeker while I was looking for a new job. If I can’t work as an apprentice in my field, I can’t finish my qualification to become a professional electrician.” 

Ali searched online for apprentice jobs, signing up to the Retrenched Apprentices and Trainees Program through the AEN and applying for jobs with a GTO that offered placements in Mildura. 

“I was trying every pathway to get back into work to finish my apprenticeship. I stayed in touch with my old host employers in New South Wales and SMGT in Victoria to find a suitable employer,” Ali said. 

“I received follow ups from AEN and am very happy to now have a job through SMGT, which means I’m placed with a local electrician in Mildura and can complete my final year of training.” 

SMGT is a Victorian group training organisation (GTO) that employs apprentices directly and places them with suitable ‘host employers’ in the local area. Host employers provide apprentices with the on-the-job training they require but leave the payroll, human resources and other administrative responsibilities to the GTO. GTOs also provide every apprentice with a field officer who guides them through their employment and classroom-based training to the successful completion of their qualification. 

Retrenched apprentices and employers looking for a new apprentice in Victoria can sign up here: 

For other states and territories, a national version of the scheme is being run through the National Apprentice Employment Network (NAEN):  

Gary Workman, Executive Director of the Apprenticeship Employment Network, is available for comment.  


Jacqui Munro, 0424 925 238  Parnell McGuinness, 0412 228 282