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HIA against increase in apprentice wages

The decision by the Fair Work Commission to apply significant increases to apprentice wages will increase the costs of training and may deter employers in the residential construction industry from hiring apprentices according to the HIA. Source: Timberbiz

“HIA is concerned that the Fair Work Commission has adopted a one size fits all approach, which ignores the unique circumstances of the residential building sector,” said David Humphrey, the Housing Industry Association’s (HIA) industrial relations spokesman.

“Disappointingly, the Commission has appeared to overlook expert evidence that pointed to large job losses in the residential construction sector if wage rates were to increase.

“Due to the current downturn in the building industry, there is already significant pressure on apprenticeships, and therefore on young people trying to get a start.

“Current wages for apprentices reflect the training nature of the employment relationship and the fact that in their early years apprentices need high levels of supervision and are less productive than a fully trained worker.

“A significant increase in the apprentice wage could end the careers of many young Australians before they even get off the ground.

“The Commission has abandoned a long established practice of tying a change to apprentice wages to an increase in the ‘work value’ of the apprentice.

“Apprentice numbers have already fallen in the last year, reflecting a tough trading environment for many businesses.

“The reality is that 85% of the residential building sector is small business, who cannot afford to carry these extra costs with no productivity trade off.”