A GLADSTONE trainer has slammed big industry and government over plummeting local apprenticeship numbers.
Acting chief executive officer of Gladstone Area Group Apprentices Limited Dave Burns originally managed the organisation for about 16 years.
He has returned from retirement after previous CEO Kerry Whitaker resigned in February.
Mr Burns said when he left eight years ago they had 450 apprentices, but today there are only 250.
"There's an enormous skill shortage yet people are reluctant (to train)," he said.
"The local industry at the moment is in a bit of quandary. At the island there's millions, but not a lot is finding its way into the workshops and business hours of Gladstone."
The CEO blames companies importing goods from overseas and the government for not helping keep money local.
"We still have the best tradesmen on the planet, but they still choose to do it overseas," Mr Burns said.
"It's a little bit cheaper, but in the long run it costs more when it has to be fixed up here."
Mr Burns said the skills shortage would worsen in the future.
"We cannot get host employers to train the kids," he said. "We have a stack of kids but no one will put them into work.
"That's sad because there is a need for trades out there."
Purcell's Engineering managing director Terry Purcell agreed the jobs weren't there for apprentices.
"We have five at the moment,'' he said. "We had to lay one off. There's not enough work."