Abandon apprenticeship or cough up $5K: Teen's ultimatum
ABANDON his apprenticeship or cough up $5000 and another three months of training.
This was the ultimatum Billy Smith (name changed) claims he faced only six months out from completing his cabinetmaking trade at a central Queensland Tafe.
The Gracemere then- teenager had scraped by on barely $350 a week as his career edged within reach but claims a paperwork error forced him to drop out.
The now 24-year-old father started his apprenticeship aged 15 but claims the Tafe he attended lost "every single piece of bookwork", which erased all records of his first two blocks of work at the facility.
He has since channelled a lifelong exposure to trucks into a career as a dangerous goods driver, which pays about $2000 a week.
While Mr Smith has turned his plight into a positive, Yeppoon's aspiring hairdresser turned mine industry job-seeker Makayla Williams was forced to ditch her dreams, unable to find a job in her preferred trade.
Now bartending at The Strand in Yeppoon, 21-year-old Ms Williams plans to follow in a number of her friends' footsteps and take up truck driving in the mining industry.
Mr Smith and Ms Williams are not alone.
Rather they reflect the growing number of regional Queenslanders dropping out of their apprenticeships as their Brisbane counterparts' trades are ticked off.
National Centre of Vocational Education Research figures show Rockhampton is among the regional centres that experienced a 5 per cent increase in apprentice drop-outs between mid-2015 and December 2016.
Industry advocates have called for more access to training at schools and more mentors for regional apprentices. Tafe Queensland SkillTech acting general manager John Tucker said the number of people completing apprenticeships was linked to the region's economic performance.
Mr Tucker said financial concerns and a lack of support and two of the main reasons people dropped out of training.