New tradies can’t cop summer tropics heat

Lucy Hughes Jones
(Australian Associated Press)

Socio-economic development in Australia’s north is being hampered by the inability of almost 60 per cent of outdoor apprentice tradies to complete their training, new data shows.

More than half of apprentice tradies in Australia’s north have dropped out in the past two decades as they struggle to cope with the region’s tropical heat, with implications for the economy, researchers from Charles Darwin University found.

The researchers who analysed more than 20 years of apprenticeship data found extreme conditions in the summer months have proven too much for many outdoor tradies, with 58 per cent of the 105,000 apprenticeships not completed.

This phenomenon could be further hurting socio-economic growth and the public policy agenda of northern development, University Fellow Dr Don Zoellner says.

“About 58 per cent of the 105,000 trade apprenticeships that have commenced above the Tropic of Capricorn since 1994 have not progressed to completion,” he said.

“A disproportionate number of these occur in the fourth quarter of the year when northern Australia experiences its hotter, more humid weather.”

Dr Zoellner says the pattern is not as evident for southern states and does not apply to traineeships mostly carried out indoors.

The findings were significant in the context of the economic development of the north, which relies heavily upon trade occupations that frequently work outdoors.

“It is also cause for concern if the warming in northern Australia continues as anticipated,” Dr Zoellner said.


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