The decline in apprenticeship training in the electrical and associated industries in Victoria
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A nation that pursues a knowledge-based approach to economic growth might be expected to view its skill base as an important component of this strategy and the rate of accumulation of trade skills as an important part of the skill formation story. Australia, in common with many other countries, has experienced an uneven rate of trade skills formation over time. This paper identifies the emergence of a skills shortage in the electrical and associated occupations in Victoria over the last decade. Three key issues emerge. The first is the downward trend in the number of apprentices being trained in Victoria. The evidence shows that the accumulation of electrical trade skills in Victoria is occurring at a much slower rate than in other States. State specific factors provide at least part of the explanation for this. On the question of whether apprenticeship training is becoming more equitable by being more accessible to minority groups, the evidence shows that women and other disadvantaged groups are not becoming better represented within the apprentice population. Finally, the paper presents arguments about the nature of the skills shortage and provides an estimate of the size of this shortage.