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Electrical union pushes to boost apprentice wages

The Electrical Trades Union will today begin a campaign to gain Gillard government support for a union push to increase wages for apprentice electricians by up to 50 per cent a year.

ETU assistant national secretary Allen Hicks will today meet Skills Minister Chris Evans to ask the government to support the push in submissions to Fair Work Australia on the award modernisation process.

Mr Hicks told The Australian yesterday the union was seeking the rise to address a drop-off in apprentice retention rates in the past few years. About 40 per cent of apprentices had dropped out and blame was attributed to the fact first-year apprentice wages were as low as $7.22 an hour.

“They just can’t afford to make ends meet,” Mr Hicks said. “People working at McDonald’s and collecting shopping carts get more than double first-year apprentices.”

Mr Hicks said with skills shortages being created by the mining boom, there was a need to encourage more people to enter the trade. Without a wage increase, there would not be enough tradesmen to service the electricity sector and meet the demand from resources companies. The choice was either training more apprentices or importing more temporary workers on 457 visas.

The union plans to press other Labor MPs and has scheduled meetings with independent MPs Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor.

Mr Hicks said in the past most apprentices had been 15, at home and unable to drive.

But most apprentices now had completed Year 12, had obtained a driving licence, and some had done a pre-vocational course, making them immediately productive.

Reinvent Your Career would like to thank The Australian where this article first appeared.

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