DARCY Cavanough is not surprised to hear about rising rates of apprentices in regional Queensland dropping out - after all, he was one of them.
The Toowoomba teenager, who grew up in south-west Queensland, said young people in regional centres trying to break into trades faced unique challenges compared to their city counterparts.
Working for four years in a certificate III in mechanical engineering at a firm in Roma, Mr Cavanough said he watched the majority of his friends fail to finish their respective courses.
"I've spoken to a fair few of my friends - most of the people in my grade dropped out of their apprenticeships - I'd say about 70%, which is a significant number," he said.
"Most dropped out in their third or fourth year.
"I was between my third and fourth year when I dropped out."
Drop-out rates for apprentices and trainees in regional areas like Toowoomba increased by five per cent in the 18 months to December last year, according to the National Centre for Vocational Education Research.
In comparison, Brisbane drop-out rates decreased by five per cent.
Mr Cavanough, who is now happily working at an engineering supply store in Toowoomba, said there were plenty of reasons why an apprentice would drop out.
"Money was a big problem (for many people), and also another one is they felt they were not getting the experience they felt they should," he said.
"Bullying still exists - it didn't happen in my case, but it definitely still exists.
"(For me), work was slowing down. There wasn't a work guarantee (and) there were internal things that were happening."
He said apprentices were often trained on outdated equipment by their registered training organisation, and he received little support.
"You're probably looking at good equipment in Brisbane as opposed to Roma, because there are only three in Roma who might use it, as opposed to 300 in Brisbane," he said.
"RTOs and businesses need to make sure that people are getting a fair go."
MORE HELP FOR APPRENTICES UNDER LNP
TOOWOOMBA North MP Trevor Watts has revealed the LNP will spend $100 million to offset costs for 20,000 new apprentices across Queensland - if elected.
The policy promise, made in Toowoomba yesterday morning, would offer businesses a $5000 rebate to help pay for new apprentices' tools.
"What it means for the business is they get a rebate of $5000 over the period of time for the apprentice, and what it means is they get an opportunity to buy their tools of the trade and to able to make sure they have continuing employment when they finish," Mr Watts said.
"One of the most expensive things is tooling up to become a tradesperson, so that's what the bonus is there for.
"It's to drive down our youth unemployment in our region, which is just a tad under 8% now."
Treasury opposition spokesman Scott Emerson, who was with Mr Watts during the announcement in Toowoomba North, labelled the region's youth unemployment rate as "unacceptable".
This is despite it being one of the lowest rates of its kind in Queensland.
Apprentice drop-out numbers in regional areas are higher than the cities.
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