The purpose of this paper is to speculate on the impact of COVID-19 on the number of apprentices and trainees and the consequent supply of skills.
In 2020 governments moved very quickly to introduce programs to underpin the system, at a time in which the labour market was in turmoil. Subsequent increases in the level of commencements support the notion that the policies were broadly successful in increasing commencements.
However, the story is more complicated, and it is necessary to delve into occupational level data. In many occupations a serious decline in the first year was more than offset by increases in the next. In particular, commencement numbers were unseasonably high in the December quarter 2020, and seasonably high in the March quarter 2021.
Commencements are a leading indicator of what is happening in apprenticeships and traineeships, but it is completions that indicate the level of skills formation and we investigate what is likely to occur over the next few years in this regard.
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