This report investigates attrition in the trades by comparing the rate at which tradespeople leave their occupation with that of professionals. 

It also determines whether attrition is influenced by economic conditions, and if a trade can provide a good start to a career in the professions. 


Skill shortages in the trades are of growing concern as Australian industry emerges from the Global Financial Crisis. Although such shortages are often attributed to the inability of the training system to supply enough skilled tradespersons, they are just as much affected by the rate at which individuals leave their occupations.

In this paper, using professional occupations as comparators, we investigate attrition in the trades and the extent to which this is affected by good or bad economic times. We also ponder the question of whether a trade is a good start to a career by tracking the occupational destination of those who exit their trades.

The report concludes that attrition in the trades is no higher than in the professions; the rate of leaving particular occupations may vary, but overall the results between the two are very similar. The economic climate also makes little difference to the attrition rate.

Image: Report cover Attrition in the trades, ‘Consumed #4’ (detail) by Michelle Jones

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