The Abbott Government has again taken the axe to skills funding in its mini-Budget, cutting over $200 million in important skills funding.
The Budget update cuts $66 million in support for Adult Australian Apprentices and slashes over 10,000 training places from the Skills for Education and Employment program.
The Adult Australian Apprentices program was put in place to remove barriers to completing an apprenticeship and to encourage up-skilling for adult workers over the age of 25.
Adult apprentices studying a Certificate III or IV could receive $150 per week (up to $7,800 per year) in the first year and $100 per week (up to $5,200 per year) in the second year of their apprenticeship.
“This will be a devastating blow to adult workers looking to start an apprenticeship,” Sharon Bird said.
“I have met with a number of adult apprentices who have told me how tough it is in later life to start their apprenticeship. They have said it is extremely difficult to live on first or second year apprentice wages while they have mortgage commitments, families and often child care expenses.
“The Abbott Government’s 2014-15 Budget had already cut almost $2 billion worth of apprenticeship and skills support programs.
“They cut direct assistance to apprentices through the Tools for Your Trade program, they have abolished mentoring and access programs, abolished the Apprentice to Business Owner program, they are in the process of abolishing Joint Group Training funding and they have cut funding to Australian Apprenticeship Centres.
“Axing these payments will be another kick in the guts for adult apprentices. Simply offering them another debt through the Trade Support Loans Scheme is not an acceptable replacement for direct assistance for apprentices who already have financial commitments.
The Abbott Government has also axed $43.8 million from the Skills for Education and Employment (SEE) program abolishing over 10,000 training places. The SEE program helps jobseekers to develop speaking, reading, writing or basic maths skills to improve their chances of getting and keeping a job.
“The Abbott Government just doesn’t seem to understand or care how hard it is for people with numeracy and literacy problems, to get and keep a job.
“These cuts will make it so much harder for our unemployed people to improve their skills to help them enter into training or work.
“In the Budget the Government abolished the Workplace English Language and Literacy Program and the National Workforce Development Fund – two programs that helped people already in employment to improve their numeracy and literacy skills and now they have abolished assistance for jobseekers.
“With general unemployment continuing to rise and youth unemployment at 14.5 per cent, the Government should be looking to help people gain the skills and training they need to enter the workforce – not cutting these services to fix Joe Hockey’s bungled Budget.
These cuts just prove this Government doesn’t have a plan to help people get a job when Australia urgently needs a plan to support jobseekers.
Labor will fight to protect the living standards, jobs and opportunities of low and middle income Australians. Labor believes in a strong economy that delivers for all Australians and doesn’t leave people behind.