Supporting Apprentices – From Start To Finish

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Too few Australians are starting apprenticeships today and too many of those who do are dropping out before they finish.

A Shorten Labor Government will turn this around by giving apprentices real support when they need it by bringing back Tools for Your Trade – the valuable apprentice support program axed by the Abbott-Turnbull Government.

Australian apprentices earn between 55 and 90 per cent of a standard wage while they are training, meaning a first year construction apprentice may take home base pay of as little as $420 a week.

This makes it hard to cover the cost of equipment, transport, books and other work essentials. Tools for Your Trade helps apprentices with these costs throughout their training to get over the hurdles that prevent them from completing.

From 1 July 2017, workers starting an apprenticeship will be eligible for $3,000 in payments throughout their training. Payments will be spaced to provide support to apprentices as they train and back them all the way to completion.

As well as investing $285 million to bring back this important apprentice support program, Labor will also boost Group Training Organisations to help small and medium businesses take on more apprentices across Australia.

Group Training Organisations help these businesses participate in apprenticeships by managing the administrative and personnel side of hiring an apprentice.

They take care of training, setting up work placements and managing administrative functions like pay, leave and superannuation. This leaves businesses free to focus on developing on-the-job skills with their apprentices.

Labor will invest in Group Training so that these organisations can help to get more apprentices into work, with $10 million a year in new funding over the next four years.

We believe every Australian should have the chance to gain real skills and a good job. Australian apprenticeships have given millions of workers that opportunity over the past few decades.

Our plan to support apprentices from start to finish comes on top of our commitment to get more apprentices onto Commonwealth-funded projects by setting aside a proportion of the jobs for apprenticeships.

We will start with a target of seeing one in 10 of the jobs on Labor’s priority infrastructure projects filled by apprentices, creating 2,600 new training places. 

We will also help more young people into apprenticeships by creating 10,000 new Apprentice Ready places and see retrenched workers gain formal recognition of their skills through 5,000 accelerated apprenticeships so they can find their next job.

In contrast, the only plan the Liberals have for vocational education and apprentices is cuts. They have now cut funding for skills and training in every budget and economic update since the last election.

They say that they provide incentives to employers, but these incentives are not new and were available under Labor.

On their watch, trade commencements have plummeted by almost 20 per cent between September 2014 and September 2015 alone.

Only Labor backs apprentices and vocational training, because we believe every Australian should have the chance to gain real skills and a good job.      

THURSDAY, 16 JUNE 2016