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4102.0 - Australian Social Trends, 1995  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 20/06/1995   
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Contents >> Education >> Education and Work: Qualified tradespeople

Education and Work: Qualified tradespeople

In 1993 there were 1.5 million qualified tradespeople, but about half were not working in their trade.

The range and level of skills of the Australian labour force have come under increasing scrutiny as the Australian economy undergoes structural readjustment. In recognition of this the government has sought to implement policies to make Australian manufacturing and service industries more internationally competitive1.

Structural change has an impact on the range and level of skills required of the labour force in the short-term. Future education and training systems aim to develop a skills base to match the new labour market needs (see Employee training).


Qualified tradespeople

Qualified tradespeople are people aged 15-64 who hold a trade certificate following the completion of a four-year Australian apprenticeship, or who have a trade qualification or experience recognised in Australia either under the Tradesman's Rights Regulation Act or by a State Apprenticeship and Training Authority.


Stock of tradespeople
In august 1993 almost 1.2 million people were employed as tradespeople. 15% of all employed people. This was a slight reduction from August 1989 when 16% of employed people were tradespeople. In contrast, the proportions employed as managers and administrators, professionals, and salespersons and personal service workers increased2.

In 1993, 1.5 million people held recognised trades qualifications, an increase of 13% from 1.3 million in 1989. Between 1989 and 1993, the number of people qualified in building trades increased by 49,400 (17%) and in metal fitting and machining by 35,600 (16%). Proportionally, the greatest increase, 22% was in the number of people qualified in hairdressing.

QUALIFIED TRADESPEOPLE

1989
1993
Field of trade qualification
'000
'000

Metal fitting and machining
215.9
251.5
Other metal
88.6
89.2
Electrical and electronics
216.2
230.9
Building
289.5
338.9
Vehicle
188.9
207.5
Food
81.8
91.0
Hairdressing
77.9
95.2
Other(a)
184.8
216.0
Total
1,343.7
1,520.2

(a) Includes printing and other trades.

Source: Survey of Career Paths of Persons with Trade Qualifications


Unused skills
When qualified tradespeople do not work in their trade, skills wastage may occur. This may come about voluntarily or involuntarily. Involuntary skills wastage occurs as current skills become redundant or the need for such skills is reduced, for example, due to technological change. It may also result from a lack of demand in the labour market for such skills.

In 1993, 51% of qualified tradespeople were not working in their trade, compared to 46% in 1989. Of those not working in their trade, 19% were not in the labour force, 14% were unemployed and 67% were employed. Of the latter group, 53% still used their trade skills occasionally in their job, with over half using their trade skills at least once a week. 6% of qualified tradespeople in the labour force had never worked in their trade.

People qualified in the building trade were the most likely to be working in their trade (61%) while those qualified in hairdressing were the least likely (36%). 27% of qualified hairdressers were not in the labour force, reflecting the high proportion of women in this field.

The proportion of tradespeople not working in their trade increased as their age increased, from 31% of those aged 15-24 to 75% of those aged 55-64. In this latter group, 42% of people not working in their trade were employed in another occupation and 41% were not in the labour force and had no interest in working. The remainder were either unemployed or not in the labour force but still interested in working.

USE OF TRADE QUALIFICATIONS, 1993

Employed

Field of trade qualification
Not in the labour force
Unemployed
Not in trade
In trade
Total
'000
'000
'000
'000
'000

Metal fitting and machining
24.4
16.1
101.0
109.4
251.5
Other metal
10.1
5.8*
32.3
41.0
89.2
Electrical and electronics
15.3
12.1
82.6
121.0
230.9
Building
24.5
23.6
84.0
206.8
338.9
Vehicle
15.7
14.7
76.4
100.7
207.5
Food
5.2*
8.7
34.8
42.4
91.0
Hairdressing
25.6
9.5
26.0
34.1
95.2
Other(a)
29.4
14.5
85.8
86.3
216.0
Total
150.1
105.6
522.9
741.6
1,520.2

(a) Includes printing and other trades.

Source: Survey of Career Paths of Persons with Trade Qualifications


Reasons for leaving trade
In 1993, 681,400 qualified tradespeople who had ever worked in their trade were no longer working in their trade. The most common reasons given were that they had been laid off, or that there had been a lack of work (21%). This was followed by wanting a change or dissatisfaction with the job (21%), family/personal/ill health reasons (20%) and reasons relating to seeking better pay/career prospects (19%). In contrast the most common reason reported for leaving a trade in 1989 was that respondents wanted a change or were dissatisfied with their jobs (32%).

Reasons given differed according to field of trade and the length of time spent in it. In 1993, tradespeople with less than 2 years experience were most likely to have reported being laid off or lack of work as the reason for leaving. Tradespeople with between 2 and 10 years experience were most likely to have given reasons of seeking better pay/career prospects, or wanting a change/dissatisfied with job.

Hairdressing had a high proportion of female tradespeople. The most common reason for leaving the trade given by this group was family/personal/ill health.

QUALIFIED PEOPLE WHO HAD LEFT THEIR TRADE, 1993

Time worked in trade

Under 2 years
2 to under 5 years
5 to under 10 years
10 years and over
Total
Reason for leaving
%
%
%
%
%

Laid off or lack of work
28.2
16.5
17.2
25.1
21.4
Wanted a change or dissatisfied with job
21.7
21.3
24.8
17.0
20.8
Family, personal or ill health
12.8
18.6
18.5
26.2
20.4
Sought better pay, lack of career prospects or promoted
17.0
26.6
22.5
12.7
19.3
More job security or sought better physical working conditions
9.2
9.6
8.0
6.5
8.0
Other
11.1
7.3
9.0
12.4
10.1
Total
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
100.0
'000
'000
'000
'000
'000
Total
100.7
170.1
174.5
261.1
681.4

Source: Survey of Career Paths of Persons with Trade Qualifications


Earnings of tradespeople employed full-time.
Although seeking better pay was not the most common reported reason for leaving a trade, or for not working in the trade, it does appear to be a factor influencing qualified tradespeople to take up other occupations. In both 1989 and 1993, in all fields, those tradespeople who were employed full-time but not working in their trade had, on average, higher usual weekly earnings than those working in their trade. Among those qualified in the metal fitting and machining, other metal, electrical and electronics, and hairdressing fields, average usual full-time earnings in 1993 differed by 8% or less between those working in their trade and those not working in their trade. In all other trades average usual full-time earnings differed by more than 10%.

Earnings generally increase with age and those working outside their trade tend, on average, to be older than those still working in their trade. This will also be a factor in the earnings difference.

Between 1989 and 1993, the usual average weekly full-time earnings of qualified tradespeople working in their trade increased by 15%, compared to an increase of 21% for those not working in their trade.

Tradespeople are more likely than any other occupation group, except managers and administrators, to be employers or self-employed. In August 1993, 25% of employed tradespeople were employers or self-employed compared to 45% of managers and administrators and less than 20% of other occupation groups2.

Among employees, average earnings of tradespeople increased at a lesser rate than that of all employees between 1989 and 1993. This may be due to changes in pay rates, but is also a result of faster employment growth in higher paying occupations than tradespeople. In 1989, 38% of full-time employees belonged to occupation groups with higher mean earnings than tradespeople, compared to 41% in 19933.

USUAL AVERAGE WEEKLY EARNINGS OF TRADESPEOPLE EMPLOYED FULL-TIME

1989
1993


Working in trade
Not working in trade
Ratio(a)
Working in trade
Not working in trade
Ratio(a)
Field of trade
$
$
ratio
$
$
ratio

Metal fitting and machining
539
604
0.89
601
635
0.95
Other metal
492
494
0.99
618
624
0.99
Electrical and electronics
581
609
0.95
660
710
0.93
Building
514
541
0.95
565
648
0.87
Vehicle
461
507
0.91
511
596
0.86
Food
447
505
0.89
543
620
0.88
Hairdressing
339*
370*
0.92
442
454*
0.97
Other(b)
502
539
0.93
611
791
0.77
Total
513
547
0.94
588
663
0.89

(a) Ratio of the earnings of those working in their trade to the earnings of those not working in their trade.
(b) Includes printing and other trades.

Source: Survey of Career Paths of Persons with Trade Qualifications


Endnotes
1 Thomas, C. (1998) Separation from the Trades - An analysis of 1981 Census data of major trades, Department of Employment, Education and Training. Education Division, Discussion Paper No 2.

2 The Labour Force, Australia (6203.0).

3 Weekly Earnings of Employees (Distribution), Australia (6310.0).



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