Demand for building and automotive apprentices remains in Bendigo as national 'tradie crisis' looms

Adam Poyser, Harry Mildren and Gayle Tierney at the apprenticeship presentation in Epsom on Thursday.
Adam Poyser, Harry Mildren and Gayle Tierney at the apprenticeship presentation in Epsom on Thursday.

THE demand for apprentices in the Bendigo building and automotive maintenance industries continues to outstrip supply, but the state’s vocational training minister says the problem is far worse interstate.

Industry groups have warned that Australia is facing a looming “tradie crisis” as apprentice numbers continue to fall – a situation that could also have an impact in Bendigo.

A lack of apprentices could slow growth in the city’s expanding residential construction industry.

CVGT chief executive officer Paul Green said encouraging young people in Bendigo to take up construction and automotive maintenance apprenticeships remains a challenge.

“We’ve currently got around 17 vacancies, and those vacancies are predominantly in the building industries and a couple of others outside of that,” he said.

“There is a lot of opportunity in the building industry, and automotive engineering industry.

“What we’ve got to try to do is encourage young people to want to take up those particular vocations and follow those streams.

“That’s the greatest challenge we have at the moment.”

Victorian vocational training minister Gayle Tierney visited Poyser Motors in Epsom on Thursday to hand out certificates to 15 people on the completion of their automotive apprenticeships.

They included apprenticeships focused on both light passenger vehicles, and heavy automotive. The business has a partnership with recruitment agency CVGT.

Ms Tierney said it was an example of how to encourage young people into the automotive industry.

She said addressing apprentice numbers was a challenge, and young people needed to be aware of the opportunities that exist locally.

“You might have seen reports in the newspapers recently that the numbers of apprenticeships are down. Nationally, that is true. In Victoria, we’re holding our own,” Ms Tierney said.

“We have a whole lot of infrastructure projects around the state.

“There is work there, there are jobs there, there are apprentices there, we just need to get more people into those positions so that we can actually connect young people with skills and therefore jobs.

“Once we’ve got kids in jobs, we know that there’s a great chance that they’ll stay in the region and make this their home for their future.”

In Bendigo, she pointed to the aquatic centre, tennis centre and stadium projects, as well as upcoming school infrastructure upgrades, as projects that were providing local jobs.

“There will never be any finish,” Ms Tierney said.

“The private sector also is heavily involved in residential construction and they also partner with government in a whole range of projects for quite reasonable growth.

“There will always be lots of work to do.”

At Thursday’s presentation, Harry Mildren was presented with his certificate for completing his four-year diesel mechanics apprenticeship at Poyser Motors.

He found the position through word-of-mouth from a friend, and said it was up to the individual to be proactive in finding opportunities that exist.

“You have to go out and look for it,” Mr Mildren said.