The ACT's building lobby has called for the reversal of cuts to vocational education subsidies, fearing they could cause long-term damage to the territory's economy.
The Master Builders Association has criticised the government for stripping funding to certain training courses at a time trade-based industries were struggling to find skilled workers.
The ACT government last month triggered a wave of anger and confusion across the training sector by quietly introducing sweeping changes to vocational education funding.
Subsidies given to providers to deliver training were reduced for dozens of qualifications, and axed entirely for others.
Pressed for an explanation on the changes, the government said that high student enrolments had caused it to blow its budget for subsidies in the past financial year.
The changes - which won't apply to existing students - were designed to return spending back to a "sustainable rate of growth".
The construction industry employs around 20,000 Canberrans and already has skills shortages across a number of tradesMaster Builders Association of the ACT chief executive Michael Hopkins
Master Builders Association of the ACT chief executive Michael Hopkins said now was the time to grow, not cut, funding for apprenticeships and skills training.
Mr Hopkins singled out two trades - carpentry and plumbing - which would suffer from cuts in taxpayer support.
Subsidies for training an apprentice carpenter has been cut from $11,400 to $8910. Support for an apprentice plumber has been reduced from $14,810 to $11,590.
"The construction industry employs around 20,000 Canberrans and already has skills shortages across a number of trades," Mr Hopkins said.
"We need funding for trade qualifications to increase, not be cut.
"Without a strong commitment from the government to trade apprenticeships based on a sustainable funding model, the territory's economy will suffer over the long term."
Mr Hopkins is seeking a meeting with Chief Minister Andrew Barr, who also holds the tertiary education portfolio, to lobby for January's cuts to be reversed.
The Master Builders' concerns echo those voiced by the peak body for private training groups, Independent Tertiary Education Council Australia, who have warned the changes will threaten the viability of some providers and exacerbate the territory's skill shortage.
The opposition used question time last week to attack Mr Barr over the changes, in particular the apparent lack of consultation with the sector before they came into effect in early January.
Mr Barr rejected the claim that the government was cutting funding to the sector, highlighting that overall spending on the two taxpayer-subsidised vocational education schemes - Skilled Capital and User Choice - would actually increase this financial year.
"What we have done is determine that that overfunding cannot continue to grow exponentially over the forward estimates," he said.
Mr Barr said the "bigger challenge" facing the sector was the low proportion of Canberra students completing their courses.
"That is a problem that the industry is going to need to respond to," Mr Barr told the Legislative Assembly.
"Because completions are what we need, not enrolments for the sake of enrolments and certainly not enrolments chasing subsidies."