This data includes the numbers, industries and demographics of Australia’s small business apprentices and trainees and illustrates the diversity of this part of the small business workforce. Please note that the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman (ASBFEO) defines small businesses as those with less than 20 employees for this data.
 

1. Number of small business apprentices and trainees

Table 1: Apprentices and trainees in-training by employer size, December 2021

Size of business

Number of apprentices and trainees in-training

% of apprentices and trainees in-training

0-19 (Small)

151,728

43%

20-199 (Medium)

96,812

28%

200+ (Large)

88,800

25%

Unknown

11,893

3%

Total

349,233

100%

Source: VOCSTATS, <https://www.ncver.edu.au/research-and-statistics/vocstats>, extracted on 28/07/22.


Chart 1: Apprentices and trainees in-training by employer size

Apprentices and trainees in-training by employer size

Source: VOCSTATS, <https://www.ncver.edu.au/research-and-statistics/vocstats>, extracted on 28/07/22.

Small businesses employed 151,728 apprentices and trainees in-training on 31 December 2021. This was a 19% increase compared to the same time in 2020 and slightly lower than at the end of September 2021.[1]

The number of apprentices and trainees in-training has remained relatively high since the December quarter 2020. This has been supported by the Australian Government’s Boosting Apprenticeship Commencements wage subsidy, introduced in October 2020.[2]

Small businesses accounted for 43% of all apprentices and trainees in-training in 31 December 2021. This proportion has been increasing over the last few years and is significantly higher than medium or large businesses.

[1]  ASBFEO has sourced data from NCEVER’s VOCSTATS. We note that NCVER states that it is not responsible for the correct extraction, analysis or interpretation of the data obtained from VOCSTATS.


Industries of small business apprentices and trainees

Table 2: Apprentices and trainees in-training employed by small business, December 2021

Industry

Number of apprentices and trainees in-training employed by small business

% of apprentices and trainees in-training employed by small business

Construction

77,329

51%

Other Services

21,811

14%

Manufacturing

10,248

7%

Accommodation and Food Services

8,173

5%

Health Care and Social Assistance

7,519

5%

Retail Trade

5,809

4%

Rental, Hiring and Real Estate Services

4,007

3%

Administrative and Support Services

2,873

2%

Professional, Scientific and Technical Services

2,506

2%

Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing

2269

1%

Education and Training

1,781

1%

Arts and Recreation Services

1,315

1%

Electricity, Gas, Water and Waste Services

1,267

1%

Wholesale Trade

1,255

1%

Information Media and Telecommunications

1,027

1%

Transport, Postal and Warehousing

903

1%

Financial and Insurance Services

893

1%

Public Administration and Safety

398

<1%

Mining

277

<1%

Not known

69

<1%

Total

151,728

100%

Source: VOCSTATS, <https://www.ncver.edu.au/research-and-statistics/vocstats>, extracted on 28/07/22.

As shown in the tables above, the industries with the highest proportion of small business’ apprentices and trainees in-training in December 2021 were:

  • Construction (51%), mainly in electrical, carpentry and plumbing services.
  • Other services (14%), mainly in hairdressing and beauty services and automotive repair and maintenance.
  • Manufacturing (7%), in areas such as structural steel fabricating, fabricated metal product manufacturing and bakery product manufacturing (non-factory based).

2. Demographics of small business apprentices and trainees

Sex[1]

Table 3: Apprentices and trainees by sex and employer size, December 2021

Size of business

Number of male apprentices and trainees in-training

Number of female apprentices and trainees in-training

Total number of apprentices and trainees in-training1

0-19 (Small)

116,547

35,178

151,728

20-199 (Medium)

66,104

30,708

96,812

200+ (Large)

58,959

29,840

88,800

Unknown

7,800

4,093

11,893

Total

249,410

99,819

349,233

1Includes apprentices and trainees where sex was not stated.

Source: VOCSTATS, <https://www.ncver.edu.au/research-and-statistics/vocstats>, extracted on 30/07/22.

Over three quarters of apprentices and trainees in-training who were employed by small business were male in December 2021. They were mainly in the construction industry.


Age

Table 4: Age of apprentices and trainees in-training, by business size

Size of business

19 years and under

20 to 24 years

25 to 44 years

45 years and over

Total1

0-19 (Small)

52,383

54,808

38,491

6,046

151,728

20-199 (Medium)

24,847

30,811

32,431

8,712

96,812

200+ (Large)

19,920

25,941

32,695

10,244

88,800

Unknown

3,139

3,648

3,969

1,126

11,893

Total

100,289

115,207

107,585

26,128

349,233

1 Includes apprentices and trainees in-training where age is not known.

Source: VOCSTATS, <https://www.ncver.edu.au/research-and-statistics/vocstats>, extracted on 30/07/22.

Over 70% of apprentices and trainees in-training who were employed by small business were aged 24 years or under in December 2021. They were mainly in the construction industry.

[1] The term “sex” is used since the data is collected using only male or female designations.


People with disability

Table 5: Apprentices and trainees with disability in-training by employer size, December 2021

Size of business

Number of apprentices and trainees with disability in-training

% of total apprentices and trainees with disability in-training

Number of apprentices and trainees without disability in-training

0-19 (Small)

4,114

44%

143,356

20-199 (Medium)

2,887

31%

90,829

200+ (Large)

2,032

22%

83,599

Unknown

295

3%

10,969

Total

9,329

100%

328,753

Source: VOCSTATS, <https://www.ncver.edu.au/research-and-statistics/vocstats>, extracted on 30/07/22.

Small businesses employed 4,114 people with disability[1] as apprentices and trainees in-training in December 2021. They accounted for 44% of all apprentices and trainees with disability in-training.


Chart 2: Apprentices and trainees with disability in-training by employer size

Apprentices and trainees with disability in-training by employer sizeSource: VOCSTATS, <https://www.ncver.edu.au/research-and-statistics/vocstats>, extracted on 30/07/22.

The proportion of people with disability who were employed by small business as apprentices and trainees in-training is rising, reaching a record 44% in December 2021.


[1] Includes people with impairment or long-term conditions.

Growth of people with disability employed in small business as apprentices and trainees in-training has outstripped larger businesses over the past few years. Small business accounted for 44% of all people with disability employed as apprentices and trainees in-training in December 2021. This is a higher proportion of total employment for people with disability than other business sizes.


Table 6: Apprentices and trainees with disability in-training employed by small business, 31 December 2021

Industry

Number of apprentices and trainees with disability in-training employed by small business

% of apprentices and trainees with disability in-training employed by small business

Construction

1,543

38%

Other Services

880

21%

Manufacturing

382

9%

Accommodation and Food Services

336

8%

Health Care and Social Assistance

245

6%

Retail Trade

223

5%

Administrative and Support Services

101

2%

Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing

82

2%

Professional, Scientific and Technical Services

64

2%

Education and Training

60

1%

Information Media and Telecommunication

39

1%

Wholesale Trade

36

1%

Arts and Recreation Services

33

1%

Rental, Hiring and Real Estate Services

27

1%

Transport, Postal and Warehousing

24

1%

Electricity, Gas, Water and Waste Services

20

<1%

Financial and Insurance Services

10

<1%

Public Administration and Safety

6

<1%

Mining

2

<1%

Not Known

0

0%

Total

4,114

100%


Source: VOCSTATS, <https://www.ncver.edu.au/research-and-statistics/vocstats>, extracted on 30/07/22.

Over half of people with disability employed by small business as apprentices and trainees in-training were employed were in two industries:

  1. Construction (38%), particularly carpentry, electrical and plumbing services.
  2. Other services (21%), particularly hairdressing and beauty services and automotive repair and maintenance.

Indigenous people

Table 7: Indigenous apprentices and trainees in-training by employer size, December 2021

Size of business

Number of Indigenous apprentices and trainees in-training

% of total Indigenous apprentices and trainees in-training

Number of total apprentices and trainees who are not Indigenous in-training

0-19 (Small)

6,949

38%

137,798

20-199 (Medium)

5,158

28%

87,126

200+ (Large)

5,914

32%

78,216

Unknown

387

2%

10,715

Total

18,408

100%

313,855

Source: VOCSTATS, <https://www.ncver.edu.au/research-and-statistics/vocstats>, extracted on 30/07/22.


Chart 3: Indigenous apprentices and trainees in-training by business size

Indigenous apprentices and trainees in-training by business size

Source: VOCSTATS, <https://www.ncver.edu.au/research-and-statistics/vocstats>, extracted on 30/07/22.

Small businesses employed 6,949 Indigenous apprentices and trainees in-training in December 2021. This accounted for 38% of total Indigenous apprentices and trainees in-training.

Growth in Indigenous apprentices and trainees in-training in small business has outstripped the growth of those in larger business sizes over the last few years. As a result, small businesses account for a higher proportion of total employment of Indigenous people. Small business employed 38% of Indigenous apprentices and trainees in-training in December 2021.


People with culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds

Table 8: Apprentices and trainees in-training born overseas, by employer size, December 2021

Size of business

Number of apprentices and trainees in-training from a non-English speaking country

% of total apprentices and trainees from a non-English speaking country

Number of total apprentices and trainees from an English-speaking country

0-19 (Small)

7,939

32%

143,681

20-199 (Medium)

7,029

29%

89,496

200+ (Large)

8,185

33%

80,506

Unknown

1,290

5%

10,539

Total

24,444

100%

324,221


Source: VOCSTATS, <https://www.ncver.edu.au/research-and-statistics/vocstats>, extracted on 30/07/22.

Small businesses employed 7,939 apprentices and trainees in-training from non-English speaking backgrounds (based on their country of birth) in December 2021. This accounted for 32% of total apprentices and trainees in-training from non-English speaking countries.

The most common languages spoken at home by small business apprentices and trainees in-training from non-English speaking backgrounds were Mandarin, Arabic and Hindi. This was slightly different to medium and large businesses. The most common languages spoken at home for:

  • medium businesses were Tagalog, Mandarin, and Hindi
  • large businesses were Tagalog, Hindi, and Punjabi.

Scope of these statistics

To ensure ASBFEO statistics are as accurate as possible the scope used for these statistics has altered from our previous publications. As a result of this difference in scope, we previously published higher estimates of apprentices and trainees that are not comparable with this data.

These statistics provide information on employees who are in-training at the end of the reporting period. In-training includes apprentices and trainees who are actively training under the terms of their contracts. Our previous publications included all apprentices and trainees, irrespective of the status of their training contract. These numbers were considerably higher, as they included apprentices and trainees whose training:

  • had been completed or cancelled, or
  • contracts were expired, due to incomplete prescribed program requirements at a given point in time.

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