“The Prime Minister’s announcement this morning regarding the establishment of a new Australian Apprenticeships Support Network is simply a stunt to rebadge the existing Australian Apprenticeship Centres,” Sharon Bird said today.
Worse still, it appears today’s announcement was simply designed to mask a secret cut of another $10 million per year from the Budget allocation for the Australian Apprenticeship Centres.
With reduced funding, the Centres are now expected to do additional tasks such as providing job matching, mentoring and support.
The Labor government had provided $50 million for the Australian Apprenticeship Access Program and the Australian Apprenticeship Mentoring Program and these were axed by the Abbott Government in the budget earlier this year.
“The Minister for Industry established Trade Support Loans and tasked the Australian Apprenticeship Centres with the task of processing these applications – now he is saying they spend too much time doing paperwork. This just doesn’t add up.
“Today’s announcement was a typical Abbott Government cut to skills dressed up as a new initiative. Now they have rolled five apprenticeship services into one program with less money.
Australian Apprenticeship Access Program Approx $18 milion
Australian Apprenticeship Mentoring Program Approx $32 million
Accelerated Australian Apprenticeships Program Approx $4 million
Apprentice to Business Owner Program Approx $11 million
Existing Apprenticeship Centres were allocated approx. $210 million per year over the forward estimates. The Government’s announcement today seems to have cut the annual allocation by $10 million.
“We will be very concerned if the Minister further narrows down his access to advice by completely abolishing Industry Skills Councils. He has already abolished the Australian Workforce and Productivity Agency which was a tripartite approach to skills and training where industry, training providers and unions had a strong voice.
“The Minister’s new VET Advisory Board came out of nowhere, has no training provider or union representation and there is no information available in relation to the establishment, purpose and composition of the Board. The Minister has hand-picked five people with limited experience in the VET system.
“The devil is in the detail on these new programs. When you actually examine the real dollar figures, funding for apprentices and skills have been cut at every turn. This announcement today is a long way from the priority and funding for skills that most peak organisations have been calling for.
MONDAY, 8 SEPTEMBER 2014