In the early to mid-1970s, the radical unions were using dubious tactics to get labourers rather large pay increases.
These pay increases were eroding apprentices' wages and many apprentices were abandoning their apprenticeships for short-term gain.
New school leavers were also avoiding apprenticeships because of the better money paid to labourers versus apprentices.
Many tradies who were in their early 20s who had finished their apprenticeships, and were getting a good fully qualified wage, were noting that in 35-40 years time as they were starting to retire, there would be a huge gap in qualified tradies.
It would appear that this shortage is now happening.
Apprentices, like TAFE and university students, need some sort of financial help or incentive from the government to take on courses which have a legitimate career opportunity and that contribute to industry and commerce.
Once qualified, tradies and graduates repay the government many times over through increased tax from their higher wages.
Government sponsored trade and graduate education is an investment in Australia's future, provided that the courses lead to a career.