Large numbers of apprentices have been stood down in recent weeks, and the number of advertised positions has dwindled.

Analysis by the Global Apprentice Network Australia says advertised apprenticeship positions have fallen by 73 per cent this year.

There were just 468 apprentice positions advertised last month, compared to 1,212 in April 2019.

“We normally see the peak interest from that sort of November to March-April period each year, that's the sort of traditional employment cycle,” GAN Australia executive director Gary Workman told the ABC.

“But we've certainly seen a massive downturn in that over the past couple of months, predominantly due to COVID-19.”

Mitchell Institute policy fellow Peter Hurley says economic downturns typically result in a drop in apprentice numbers.

“It's still a little bit too early to tell exactly how this is going to affect apprentices on the whole, it takes about six months for these figures to come through,” he said.

“However, it is a very big problem, apprenticeships take about three to four years so if there's an impact now it affects the pipeline of apprentices, it means we have long lasting impacts that can take years to work their way through the system.”

The Federal Government is offering its JobKeeper package alongside a 50 per cent apprentice wage subsidy for small businesses, allowing employers to choose between the two.

Australian Manufacturing Workers Union spokesperson Ian Curry says the Government may have to go further to keep people in work.

“It may not be enough, it's incredibly important that we maintain the employment of all of the apprentices and trainees that are in the system. We'll need those skilled workers when the recovery comes,” he said.

“It would be a very sad thing if they were to become statistics in terms of non-completion, we already have an issue with non-completion in Australia.”