If we want to encourage people to learn new trades and vocations we need to shift the focus from punishing students who choose to enter training and punishing tertiary institutions that fail to keep students in class, says TEU vice president Richard Draper.
Currently a student who wants to study for a trade or vocation can be paid as little as $10.40 an hour (which will rise to $10.80 next month). In any other job, they would be entitled to the minimum wage of $13 an hour ($13.50 next month).
“Therefore, apprentices have a strong short-term financial incentive to quit their studies and take a less skilled job, where they can work for higher pay and longer hours without the pressure of study,” said Dr Draper.
Meanwhile polytechnics and other vocational training providers now lose funding if too many of their students do not complete courses and qualifications and/or stay in study.
“Our vocation training system is set up perversely, to reward students who drop out of study and take up unskilled jobs, but punish institutions that let this happen.”
“If we really want more skilled people learning new trades and vocations we need to get rid of the training minimum wage and allow apprentices and trainees to earn at least the same as workers in minimum wage jobs,” said Dr Draper.