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Insight issue #58 22 August 2016

NCVER data update

Total apprentice and trainee numbers fall, but trade commencements could be stabilising

The number of apprentice and trainee commencements decreased by 12.4% in the December 2015 quarter compared with the December 2014 quarter. A flow-on from having fewer commencements is fewer apprentices and trainees in-training and fewer completing.

Nationally, the overall number of apprentices and trainees in-training as at 31 December 2015 decreased (down 11.8% to 278 600) compared with the previous year, as did:

  • completions (down 19.0%, to 32 300)
  • cancellations and withdrawals (down 10.7%, to 24 900).

Over the same period, apprentice and trainee commencements in the non-trades decreased by 13.3%, predominantly due to a decline in community and personal service workers, as well as clerical and administrative workers.

Trade commencements decreased by 11.1%, with the main contributors being construction trade workers and technicians and trade workers not elsewhere classified (which includes hairdressers, wood trades workers and miscellaneous technicians and trade workers).

While trades commencements were down in the December 2015 quarter compared with the December 2014 quarter, over the 2015 year there were 0.3% more trade commencements than in 2014.

To access Australian vocational education and training statistics: apprentices and trainees 2015 – December quarter, visit

Fewer people in government-funded training

The number of students enrolled in government-funded vocational education and training (VET) decreased from 1.8 million students in 2014 to 1.6 million students in 2015 — a decline of 10.7%. This is the third consecutive year that student numbers have declined.

Of the 1.6 million students, some 1.2 million students were Commonwealth or state funded, and
373 100 students were fee-for-service at TAFE and other government providers.

In 2015, the government-funded VET system comprised:

  • 944 300 (59.1%) students at TAFE and other government providers
  • 80 300 (5.0%) students at community education providers
  • 554 300 (34.7%)  students at other registered providers
  • 19 000 (1.2%) students attended more than one provider type.

The decline in VET activity between 2014 and 2015 is also evident in other measures, including:

  • a 9.4% decline in the number of subjects undertaken
  • a 13.7% decline in hours of delivery
  • a 13.7% decline in full-year training equivalents

To access Australian vocational education and training statistics: government-funded students and courses 2015, visit