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The Young Workers Centre has revealed that complaints from apprentices have now risen to 1 in 2 of our ongoing clients. Key legal complaints include bullying, unsafe working conditions, poor training, insufficient supervision, unfair dismissal and wage theft.

Exploitation and abuse is being reported across all sectors – from hairdressing and hospitality to construction and

In September 2022 The McKell Institute published their report, "Working, learning: Better supporting Victorian apprentices on the job." Read the report here.

Apprenticeship numbers in Victoria have fallen significantly in the last decade but have recently begun growing again. Victorian apprenticeship completion rates are below the national average. Fewer than 20,000 Victorian apprentices completed their training in each of the years just prior to the pandemic.

  • Some occupations – notably hospitality and the food trades – have seen a significant decline in training rates over the last two decades.
  • Employer-related issues are critical factor in apprenticeship completion.
  • Reported incidence of workplace issues, including bullying and harassment, and unpaid wages, are increasing.
  • Nearly two-thirds of Victorian apprentices were unaware of the apprenticeship regulator’s roles and responsibilities (the VRQA). Complaints to the VRQA by apprentices are in the single digits each year.
  • The need for support has grown considerably, with 3-times growth in the percentage of apprentices who need support to understand their contract obligations, and a 6-times increase in the percentage of employers who need the same.
  • VRQA apprenticeship field services – currently outsourced – visit approximately 1.2% of all
    apprentices each year, or just three visits per working day by all of its authorised officers.
  • There is a complex web of organisations who provide different advice and support to apprentices, and it is often confusing who does what and where to go for help with employment related issues.
  1. Support should continue to be provided to Victorian apprentices to start, and complete, their training.
  2. Policy makers and regulators should increase the voice of Victorian apprentices in their deliberations to ensure issues relevant to apprentices are considered and addressed.
  3. Regulators should work together to share information and risk about employment and workplace related issues for apprentices.
  4. Employers should be properly held accountable for the bad on-the-job experiences of their apprentice, and have approvals revoked if they breach safety laws.
  5. Regulatory powers in relation to apprentices in Victoria should be moved from the VRQA to another statutory body or agency, along with field visits, to reduce duplication, increase effectiveness and prevent exploitation and poor workplace experience of apprentices.