Minister Abandons Apprentices Again

Minister Macfarlane has taken the axe to apprenticeship assistance again by cutting funding to the $12.5 million Joint Group Training Program by 20 per cent this year and axing the program completely in 2015-16.

“The Minister didn’t even bother to put out a press release and make a formal announcement – instead opting to do it by stealth,” Sharon Bird said.

“As outlined in my speech to the Group Training National Conference this morning, in many areas, particularly in regional Australia, the employers are predominantly small and medium businesses who are simply focussed on making ends meet and would find taking on an apprenticeship a challenge.  This is why Group Training Organisations play such a critical role of the training infrastructure.

“It has become more difficult for young people to get their first job and they often don’t have the pathway to connect to employers who may be interested in hiring an apprentice and this is where Group Training Organisations step in – to make connections between employers and prospective apprentices and to help build a strong and successful relationship between the two.

Instead of investing in jobs for the future and skilling up our existing workforce, the Abbott Government has ripped almost $2 billion from the skills portfolio by axing the following programs:

  • Tools for Your Trade Program
  • National Workforce Development Fund
  • Workplace English Language and Literacy Programme
  • Australian Apprenticeships Access Programme
  • Accelerated Australian Apprenticeships Programme
  • Australian Apprenticeships Mentoring Programme
  • Apprenticeship to Business Owner Programme
  • National Partnership Agreement on Training Places for Single Parents
  • Alternative Pathways Programme
  • Productive Ageing through Community Education
  • Step Into Skills Programme

“This latest cut to apprenticeship support follows on from the recent announcement that the Abbott Government will be rebadging Australian Apprenticeship Centres with a new name, extra tasks such as providing job matching, mentoring and support – and a big $10 million per year cut.

“This has been a disastrous year for our apprentices.  The Minister needs to stop these cheap cuts to apprenticeship support and start investing in the skills that our workforce needs,” Sharon Bird concluded.