Liberals' Savage Cuts Equal 909 Fewer Apprentices in Flynn

The number of apprentices in Flynn has plunged by more than 900 in less than a year, thanks to savage Liberal cuts to programs designed to help young workers train for a job.

The Member for Cunningham, Sharon Bird, and the Labor candidate for Flynn, Zac Beers, today visited Gladstone Area Group Apprentices Ltd to discuss the importance of TAFE in training and retraining Australia’s workforce.

Zac Beers also called on Ken O’Dowd to come clean on the Liberals’ secret plans for TAFE.

The Liberals have cut $2.75 billion from the skills portfolio, including $1 billion in cuts to apprentices through the Tools for Your Trade program and access and mentoring programs. 

These cuts have hit local apprentices hard.

They have had a devastating impact on apprentices in training in Flynn, with numbers falling from 3,993 in June 2014 to 3,084 in March 2015 – a drop of 909 local apprentices.

In September 2013 there were 417,700 apprentices in training across Australia. 

As a result of the Liberal Government’s savage cuts there are now only 295,300 apprentices in training (at September 2015) – that’s 122,400 apprentices across Australia. 

The Liberals’ $1 billion of savage cuts include:

  • Abolishing apprenticeship programs such as mentoring, access and the Apprentice to Business Owner program.
     
  • Replacing apprentice support with apprentice debt by abolishing the Tools for Your Trade Program.
     
  • Rebadging and cutting funding to Australian Apprenticeship Centres.
     
  • Cutting Joint Group Training funding.
     
  • Cutting support for adult apprentices.

Training the workers of the future is critical for our economy, for productivity and for communities.

We need to put in place the next generation of skilled tradespeople to take on the jobs that are emerging and to ensure that we can meet future workforce needs.

Before the election, Tony Abbott promised that the Liberals would provide better support for Australia’s apprentices.

Instead they have cut funding and defaulted to their fallback position of relying heavily on 457 visas without also investing in skills and training.

The Liberals have an appalling track record in vocational education – they cannot be trusted with our TAFEs.

The Palaszczuk Labor Government has revitalised TAFE in Queensland by funding the Rescuing TAFE initiative. This $34 million program means there will be more training places, more student support places and up to 100 extra teaching and support areas.

Federal Labor has a plan to back TAFE into the future by developing a National Priority Plan to place it as the public provider within the VET sector and ensure its viability.

For the first time there will be a clear description of what government expects from TAFE as the public provider and what makes it different from other providers.

Having defined the vital role of TAFE as our public provider, we will work with the States and Territories to provide quarantined and guaranteed funding.

Labor has also announced a full, evidence-based review of the vocational education and training system to build a stronger sector and weed out dodgy providers and student rip-offs.

Students and providers deserve a comprehensive approach to policy-making to make sure the sector is preparing Australians for the jobs of the future.

It is vital that we train and retrain our workforce to improve our participation, productivity, innovation and growth.

MONDAY, 30 MAY 2016

 

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Only Labor Supports The Steel Industry

Illawarra federal MPs Sharon Bird and Stephen Jones today welcomed New South Wales Labor’s pledge to secure the future of local steelmaking and steelworkers’ jobs. 

These measures complement Federal Labor’s strong plan for steel, which we will begin to implement within 100 days if we form government. 

A Shorten Labor Government will mandate Australian standards in projects funded by the Federal Government and help local producers get their certification. 

When South Australia implemented a similar plan to increase industry participation, the proportion of local content in infrastructure projects in that state increased to more than 90 per cent. 

In addition to mandating standards, a Shorten Labor Government will:

  • Maximise the use of local steel in Federal Government-funded projects and put in place regular reporting of usage levels.

  • Ensure more projects have an Australian Industry Participation Plan by lowering the threshold for projects that must comply – from $500 million down to $250 million for private projects, and from $20 million to $10 million for public projects.

  • Double the funding for the Australian Industry Participation Authority and appoint an AIP Board.

  • Ensure Australia’s anti-dumping system has the right powers and penalties in place.

  • Create a National Steel Supplier Advocate. 

Federal Labor and NSW Labor are working together to support steelmaking and the jobs that it creates and supports. 

Importantly, Labor will begin implementing our plan within 100 days of coming to government, with the establishment of a Metals Manufacturing Innovation Council. 

The Council will include representatives from industry, unions and governments and will work closely with a Shorten Labor Government to deliver this wide-ranging package of reforms. 

State and federal Labor have comprehensive policies that recognise the strategic significance of the steel industry for Australia. 

We must not become the only advanced economy in the world to let our steel industry die. 

At this election people face a clear choice. Labor has a positive plan to help secure the future of our steel industry while the Turnbull Liberal Government has no plan. 

Under the Abbott-Turnbull Government’s watch we have already seen the car industry announce its closure. We can ill afford to watch the same thing happen to our steel and metals manufacturing industries. 

Forced statements from Malcolm Turnbull on a potential role for Australian steel in defence contracts that have yet to be signed are not good enough and will do little for workers, including in the Illawarra, who rely on the steel industry for their jobs. 

On at least two occasions in the past few weeks, Mr Turnbull has been within 100 kilometres of the steel works and yet he remains a million miles away from announcing a plan for our steel industry.

MONDAY, 30 MAY 2016

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Sneaky Backroom Deals Have No Place In Deciding Future Of TAFE

The Liberals need to come clean immediately on their secret plans for TAFE. 

Leaked details of a $1.65 million contract between McKinsey and the New South Wales Government to “ ‘comprehensively restructure’ before an expected 2018 national takeover of vocational training” were revealed by the Sydney Morning Herald today. 

“The McKinsey contract states the consulting firm will work with TAFE NSW as it ‘undertakes the comprehensive restructure of its business and operating model over the period to 18 August 2018’.”

 

Leaked details of McKinsey contract with NSW Government, Fairfax, 29 May 2016

While the Minister is known for his backroom deals to oust prime ministers, our vocational education system is far too important to be subject to these types of secretive deals. 

The Minister must let our students and our communities know what his plans are. 

Does he plan to move down the road of full competition, as has been flagged in the article today and in the leaked documents earlier this year? 

Throughout this year it has been smoke and mirrors, with Minister Birmingham as recently as Friday last week pushing for a takeover and Minister Ryan refusing to rule out a federal takeover.

 

“… have a process under way through COAG to try and get states and territories to work toward a more coordinated approach across vocational education.” 

Minister Simon Birmingham, ABC South East, 27 May 2016

 

"By placing control of all of the funding levers — the setting of fees, payment of subsidies, and lending of income-contingent loans — with one level of government, we would promote accountability in the system and could create a more effective market, driven by students rather than providers, than we've seen to date," he told a TAFE Directors Australia conference. 

Minister Simon Birmingham, Sydney Morning Herald, 11 September 2015 

"… my personal inclination has not usually been that a federal takeover ensures better outcomes."  

"My prediction would be we won't be heading down that path." 

Minister Scott Ryan, The Age, 11 March 2016

 

The amateur games in this portfolio have got to stop. 

The Minister must come clean – what is his plan for TAFE? 

SUNDAY, 29 MAY 2016

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Minister Complains But Doesn’t Have A Plan For Apprentices

After cutting $1 billion from apprenticeship support and sneaking through their first step towards dismantling the apprenticeship system, the Minister for Vocational Education and Skills, Scott Ryan, has now lashed out at Labor for calling him out on his sneaky plans.

While MYEFO did contain a mention of Apprenticeship Training – alternative delivery pilots, the Minister obviously forgot about it until seven months later on 6 May 2016 when he rushed through the tender process, or lack thereof, right before the election was called.

Minister Ryan has not had a good start in this portfolio – starting with plagiarised speeches, rushed program guidelines, a complete lack of a plan to help apprentices and a failure to guarantee funding for TAFE.

All the Minister has done this election campaign is hide in media studios or fill in for more senior colleagues by turning a couple of sods on government projects.

He’s too scared to visit a TAFE because he doesn’t have a plan.

He’s too scared to meet with apprentices because he doesn’t have a plan.

In his media release, he trumpets that he is “working hard” by introducing Trade Support Loans yet only 40,000 loans have been taken up. Australia’s almost 300,000 apprentices don’t want to be loaded up with debt

While he boasts about continuing incentive payments for employers, he fails to mention that they abolished the incentives paid to apprentices.

He also crows about the Australian Apprenticeship Support Network – this is just a rebadging job with a $10 million per year cut and additional tasks such as job matching, mentoring and support. 

The reality is that as at September 2015 there were 122,400 fewer apprentices in training across Australia.  

This Minister has announced nothing to address this problem.

It is time that the Minister got out and visited a TAFE or talked to an apprentice and put together a real plan to help train the workforce of the future rather than hiding behind a couple of shovels.

THURSDAY, 26 MAY 2016

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Liberals’ $1 Billion In Cuts = 8,339 Fewer Apprentices In South Australia

Sharon Bird visited the Adelaide Training and Employment Centre and PEER VEET with Nick Champion, Steve Georganas, Glen Dallimore and Senator Anne McEwen to discuss the drop of apprentices in training in South Australia and the importance of TAFE in training and retraining Australia’s workforce.

The Liberals have cut $2.75 billion from the skills portfolio, including $1 billion in cuts to apprentices through the Tools for Your Trade program and access and mentoring programs. 

These cuts have hit local apprentices hard.

They have had a devastating impact on apprentices in training in South Australia, with numbers falling from 30,286 in June 2014 to 21,947 in March 2015.

That is a drop of 8,339 apprentices, which is almost 30 per cent fewer apprentices in South Australia. The local breakdown of apprentice numbers is as follows: 

Electorate

June 2014

March 2015

Loss

Percentage

Adelaide

5,615

3,949

-1,666

-29.7%

Barker

4,537

3,498

-1,039

-22.9%

Boothby

1,552

1,201

-351

-22.6%

Grey

3,295

2,372

-923

-28%

Hindmarsh

2,415

1,663

-752

-31.1%

Kingston

1,660

1,186

-474

-28.6%

Makin

1,601

1,072

-529

-33%

Mayo

1,272

1,019

-253

-19.9%

Port Adelaide

4,695

3,379

-1,316

-28%

Sturt

1,330

898

-432

-32.5%

Wakefield

2,314

1,710

-604

-26.1%

In September 2013, there were 417,700 apprentices in training across Australia. Because of the Abbott-Turnbull Government’s savage cuts, this had dropped to only 295,300 apprentices in training by September 2015. 

That is 122,400 fewer apprentices in training across the country. The Liberals have no plan to address apprenticeship support and just continue to play the blame game. 

They mismanage VET FEE-HELP – they blame everyone but themselves.

They axe $1 billion in apprenticeship support and numbers drop by 25 per cent - they blame everyone but themselves.

The answer they have now is nothing more than a rushed plan to dismantle apprenticeships.

When will the Liberals start acting like they are a grown-up government and start taking responsibility for their mismanagement of VET FEE-HELP?

Before the last election, the Liberals promised that they would provide better support for Australia’s apprentices – sadly they have cut funding and defaulted to their fallback position of relying heavily on 457 visas without also investing in skills and training.

While the Liberals have taken a wrecking ball to South Australian jobs, Labor has a plan which will create the jobs of tomorrow by investing in South Australia.

We have already committed $59 million to assist automotive suppliers to transition to new industries and $500 million for the AdeLINK tram network which will create 2,000 jobs and support Australia’s steel industries.

Last year, on National TAFE Day, Bill Shorten and Sharon Bird announced Labor’s plan to back TAFE by developing a National Priority Plan to place TAFE squarely as the public provider within the VET sector and ensure TAFE’s viability and strength into the future. 

Labor has also announced a full, evidence-based review of the vocational education and training system to build a stronger VET sector and weed out dodgy providers and student rip-offs.

Training the workers of the future is a critical issue for our economy, for productivity and for communities. We need to put in place the next generation of skilled tradespeople to take on the jobs that are emerging and to ensure that we can meet future workforce needs.

It is vital that we train and retrain our workforce to deliver on improving the participation, productivity, innovation and growth efforts required for the nation.

WEDNESDAY, 25 MAY 2016

 

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Liberals’ $1 Billion In Cuts = 672 Fewer Apprentices In Dobell

Shadow Minister for Vocational Education, Sharon Bird, and Labor candidate for Dobell, Emma McBride, visited Wyong TAFE today to discuss the drop of apprentices in training in Dobell and the important role TAFE plays in training and retraining Australia’s workforce.

The Liberals have cut $2.75 billion from the skills portfolio, including $1 billion in cuts to apprentices by abolishing the Tools for Your Trade program and access and mentoring programs. 

These cuts have hit local apprentices in training in Dobell hard, with numbers of apprentices falling from 2,323 in June 2014 to 1,651in March 2015 – a drop of 672 local apprentices.

That’s almost 30 per cent less apprentices in Dobell.

In September 2013 there were 417,700 apprentices in training across Australia. Because of Malcolm Turnbull’s savage cuts there are now only 295,300 apprentices in training (Australian vocational education and training statistics, September quarter, 2015). 

That is 122,400 fewer apprentices in training across the country.  

Before the last election, Tony Abbott promised that the Liberals would provide better support for Australia’s apprentices – instead they have cut funding and defaulted to their fallback position of relying heavily on 457 visas without also investing in skills and training.

Last year, on National TAFE Day, Bill Shorten and Sharon Bird announced Labor’s plan to back TAFE into the future by developing a National Priority Plan to place TAFE squarely as the public provider within the vocational education and training sector and ensure TAFE’s viability and strength into the future. 

Labor has also announced a full, evidence-based review of the vocational education and training system to build a stronger sector and weed out dodgy providers and student rip-offs.

Training the workers of the future is a critical issue for our economy, for productivity and for communities. We need to put in place the next generation of skilled tradespeople to take on the jobs that are emerging and to ensure that we can meet future workforce needs.

It is vital that we train and retrain our workforce to deliver on improving the participation, productivity, innovation and growth efforts required for the nation.

TUESDAY, 24 MAY 2016

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Sneaky Liberals Take First Step To Dismantle Apprenticeships Five Minutes Before Election

The Liberals have snuck through their first step towards dismantling the apprenticeship system that has served our tradespeople so well – all under a cloud of secrecy on the last day of Parliament.

In the ultimate cover-up of their sneaky plans to destroy apprenticeships, Scott Ryan, the Minister for Vocational Education didn’t bother consulting and didn’t even put out a press release.

The Liberals’ new pilot program, Apprenticeship Training – alternative delivery pilots, sounds alarm bells on a number of fronts. 

Not content with cutting $1 billion from apprenticeship support, the Liberals are now advocating front-end, off the job institutional training.

Australia’s integrated apprenticeship training system is among the best in the word – apprentices learn while they work. They get to put the skills they learn in the classroom into practice at their place of employment. 

The Liberals are looking to dismantle this system. This will mean that apprentices attend their training while not being able to refine their skills at work.

The program guidelines state that the pilots will be “developed, implemented and delivered in partnership with industry”. The guidelines do not require consideration of the long term interests of apprentices – just big business. Front-end, off the job institutional training is another way to cost-shift the price of training to apprentices and not pay them while they train.

It’s just another kick in the guts for people wanting to train and get the skills they need to start on their careers.

The Liberals have cut $2.75 billion from the skills portfolio, including $1 billion in cuts to apprentices through the Tools for Your Trade program and access and mentoring programs.

In September 2013 there were 417,700 apprentices in training across

Australia. Because of the Liberal Government’s savage cuts there are now only 295,300 apprentices in training (September 2015). 

That is 122,400 fewer apprentices in training across the country. 

Training the workers of the future is a critical issue for our economy, for productivity and for communities. We need to put in place the next generation of skilled tradespeople to take on the jobs that are emerging and to ensure that we can meet future workforce needs.

It is vital that we support apprentices to train and retrain to deliver on improving the participation, productivity, innovation and growth efforts required for the nation.

TUESDAY, 24 MAY 2016  


 

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New Report Highlights The Need For Improved Quality And Confidence In Vocational Education And Training

A Participation in Tertiary Education in Australia report released today by the Mitchell Institute highlights the need for measures to improve quality and confidence in vocational education and training, which are at the heart of Labor’s plan for the sector and for fixing the Liberals’ VET FEE-HELP mess.

Under the Liberals, the VET FEE-HELP loans scheme has escalated from $699 million in 2013 to $1.7 billion in 2014 and is expected to have blown out to over $3 billion for 2015.

It’s students suffering the most from the Liberals’ failures. Most fail to graduate, while those that do often find their so-called “qualifications” from the new private providers are unable to get them the jobs they want, despite incurring a substantial debt.

At the same time, the Liberals are cutting funding to skills, vocational education and training by $2.75 billion, including $1 billion cut from apprentice training.

The Liberals have used the Vocational Education and Skills portfolio as a piggy bank to bankroll their tax cuts for big business.

The report shows that the sector has suffered significant reputational damage in recent years as a result of the Liberals’ neglect and needs a new and sustainable funding model.

Labor’s policy addresses both problems.   

Labor has announced a full, evidence-based review of the vocational education and training system to build a stronger sector and weed out dodgy providers and student rip-offs.

Labor is committed to ensuring our TAFEs are properly funded to train and retrain our workforce to deliver on improving the participation, productivity, innovation and growth efforts that Australia needs. 

Labor has also committed to a funding guarantee for TAFE, a comprehensive review into the role and function of the vocational education and training system and a VET ombudsman. Labor's National Priority Plan for TAFE places it squarely as the public provider within the VET sector and ensures TAFE's viability and strength into the future.

A Shorten Labor Government will also introduce a loan cap of $8,000 a year in the VET FEE-HELP program as part of an integrity package to stop the massive waste of taxpayers’ money, and to prevent price gouging of students and improve training outcomes.

Labor will stop the waste and the exploitation of students.  Our plan will restore integrity to the system, by cleaning out the dodgy private providers who have been ripping Australians off for too long.

Labor's plan will put reasonable limits on course loans in the same way limits are already in place for university degrees.

We will put students and taxpayers first, not vested interests.

The vocational education sector has only seen one winner under the Liberals, and that’s the unscrupulous colleges making huge profits at the expense of students. 

Only Labor will stand up for the welfare of students and the integrity of the vocational education system, and prevent taxpayers lining the pockets of unscrupulous colleges.   

Further details of Labor’s plans are included in the factsheet available here: www.alp.org.au/restoringintegritytovetfeehelp 

MONDAY, 23 MAY 2016

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Liberals’ $1 Billion In Cuts = 4,371 Fewer Apprentices In Newcastle And The Hunter

Sharon Bird visited Maitland, Newcastle and Belmont TAFEs with Meryl Swanson, Sharon Claydon and Pat Conroy today to discuss the drop of apprentices in training in Newcastle and the Hunter and the importance of TAFE in training and retraining Australia’s workforce. 

The Liberals have cut $2.75 billion from the Skills portfolio, including $1 billion in cuts to apprentices through the Tools for Your Trade program and access and mentoring programs. 

These cuts have hit local apprentices hard.

They have had a devastating impact on apprentices in training in Newcastle and the Hunter, with numbers falling from 14,399 in June 2014 to 10,028 in March 2015.

That is a drop of 4,371 local apprentices, which is 30 per cent fewer apprentices in Newcastle and the Hunter.  The local breakdown of apprentice numbers is as follows: 

Electorate

June 2014

March 2015

Loss

Percentage

Paterson

1,823

1,364

-459

-25.2%

Hunter

4,059

2,890

-1,169

-28.8%

Newcastle

4,412

2,896

-1,516

-34/4%

Shortland

1,881

1,390

-491

-26.1%

Charlton

2,224

1,488

-736

-33.1%

In September 2013, there were 417,700 apprentices in training across Australia. Because of the Abbott-Turnbull Government’s savage cuts, this had dropped to only 295,300 apprentices in training by September 2015.  

That is 122,400 fewer apprentices in training across the country. 

Before the last election, the Liberals promised that they would provide better support for Australia’s apprentices – sadly they have cut funding and defaulted to their fallback position of relying heavily on 457 visas without also investing in skills and training. 

Last year, on National TAFE Day, Bill Shorten and Sharon Bird announced Labor’s plan to back TAFE by developing a National Priority Plan to place TAFE squarely as the public provider within the VET sector and ensure TAFE’s viability and strength into the future. 

Labor has also announced a full, evidence-based review of the vocational education and training system to build a stronger VET sector and weed out dodgy providers and student rip-offs.

Training the workers of the future is a critical issue for our economy, for productivity and for communities. We need to put in place the next generation of skilled tradespeople to take on the jobs that are emerging and to ensure that we can meet future workforce needs. 

It is vital that we train and retrain our workforce to deliver on improving the participation, productivity, innovation and growth efforts required for the nation. 

MONDAY, 23 MAY 2016

 

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Is The Skills Minister Going To Visit A TAFE This Election?

Ten days into the election campaign and the Minister for Vocational Education and Skills, Senator Scott Ryan, continues to hide from the Abbott-Turnbull Government’s record of $2.75 billion cuts to skills programs. 

So far, the Minister has not visited one TAFE campus.

Shadow Minister for Vocational Education Sharon Bird said that she was not surprised the Minister has been put into protective custody this campaign.

When it comes to the skills portfolio, the Abbott-Turnbull Government has only ever taken money out. The latest of four Ministers has continued this appalling record. We have seen Australia lose over 120,000 apprentices under this Government's watch yet they show no concern about this.

Senator Ryan has been nothing but a disappointment since he was appointed.  After creating an expectation he would fix the VET-FEE HELP mess, he tried to dodge the issue with a discussion paper.

Senator Ryan’s complete failure to express any support for TAFE is consistent with the record of the three skills Ministers that preceded him – apparently none of those visited a TAFE either and avoided talking about public provision at all.

Labor candidates throughout the country are hearing from their communities about serious concerns regarding the unethical behaviour of some private vocational education providers, the future of their local TAFE and apprenticeship opportunities.

Shadow Minister for Vocational Education Sharon Bird has been a regular visitor at TAFE campuses and continues to average almost a visit a day during this campaign.

In a stark contrast to the Liberals’ silence, Labor has committed to developing a National Priority Plan to place TAFE squarely as the public provider within the VET sector and ensure TAFE’s viability and strength into the future. 

Labor has also announced a full, evidence-based review of the vocational education and training system to build a stronger VET sector by weeding out dodgy providers and student rip-offs.

Malcolm Turnbull’s so-called plan for a ‘strong new economy’ makes no mention of TAFE.

It beggars belief that you can have a Minister for Vocational Education and Skills who never sets foot on TAFE campuses and a Prime Minister who doesn’t list skills and TAFE as a priority.

The Liberals have no interest in training Australia’s future workforce and they have no interest in TAFE. 

THURSDAY, 19 MAY 2016

 

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