ABBTF recently conducted a survey of bricklaying contractors across Australia to uncover in greater detail the challenges faced by employers of bricklaying apprentices.
More than 550 responses were received from contractors comprising those who had apprentice experience and a group who chose not to employ an apprentice. Our appreciation goes out to all who participated in interviews and phone calls, helping compile this important research.
The key findings from the survey were:
1. The single most important reason why contractors hire an apprentice is “to train them my way … no bad habits”. Fewer contractors (20%) hired apprentices to grow their business and fewer again (10%) hired because of financial incentives.
2. Only 36% of contractors said they are more likely to hire due to new subsidies on offer, however, contractors are much more likely to hire “when a good kid comes along” (77%) or “there is lots of work on offer” (77%).
3. Many contractors hold off hiring an apprentice because they are unsure they will have enough work in future years.
4. 77% of contractors either found it difficult or very difficult to find a well suited, willing apprentice, whether new or part-way through their training.
5. The first few weeks were challenging for contractors, especially in the following areas:
a. to keep apprentices moving,
b. to keep them keen and
c. maintaining the patience to explain the task at hand.
6. When hiring a 2nd/3rd year apprentice, contractors are concerned about the quality of work and how quickly the apprentice will pick up “our method”.
7. Subsidies are not the reasons for hiring and are seen as paying for time off for training at TAFE or covering general costs. Subsidies are seen as less about helping contractors “get over the line to hire an apprentice”.
8. There are a number of contractors who are not suited to employ apprentices.
9. Contractors who have not employed an apprentice said it was due to not having reliable work and having to commit to 3 or 4 years.
10. Contractors who had experience with apprentices gave reasons on why they would not hire another apprentice. The stated reasons were problems with apprentices, not enough work, too costly, or close to retirement.
The above findings will help ABBTF become more effective in supporting the trade effectively with specific services to improve apprentice sign ups and retention.
The Report, titled Bricklaying Contractors Stepping Up, May 2013, is the second research survey in four years. The previous study on the Barriers and Drivers for Bricklaying Apprenticeships was conducted in 2009.
This new report is available at the ABBTF website and any feedback or enquiry is welcome either at Contact Us using the online form or phone (all areas) 1300 66 44 96
ABBTF General Manager