Abbott's Priority Must Be To Invest In Skills To Boost Economy

The last Budget was a disaster for skills with cuts of almost $2 billion and a number of programs to support the training of apprentices and workers axed completely. 

Unfortunately for Australian apprentices, Tony Abbott is more interested in looking after his own job than training them up for future jobs. 

“I am very nervous about the Budget next week,” Sharon Bird said. 

“Last year the cuts to skills, especially apprenticeships were savage. While savings need to be made, we should be investing in skilling up Australians for jobs for the future rather than axing programs and cutting funds for training which hurts our economy.

“The Abbott Government needs to support workers in areas and industries in transition and prepare for the new job opportunities for the future.

“Our workers need to keep pace with innovation in order for Australia to be competitive into the future.”


“Before the election, Tony Abbott promised that apprentices would be better off under the Abbott Government.  In his very first Budget, Tony Abbott cut $1 billion from apprenticeship programs and we are still seeing more and more cuts. 

“In his first Budget, he cut the Tools for Your Trade Program, the Australian Apprenticeship Access Program, the Australian Apprenticeship Mentoring Program and the Apprentice to Business Owner.

In October 2014 then Minister Macfarlane announced that Australian Apprentices Centres would be rebadged with a new name and a funding cut of $10 million per year and additional tasks such as job matching, mentoring and support.

In November 2014 we learnt that the Abbott Government was to axe the $12.5 million Joint Group Training program in 2015-16.

Then, just a month later in December, adult apprentices were dealt a blow with the announcement of a $66 million cut to direct adult apprentice assistance payment under the Adult Australian Apprentices program. 

Under this program, adult apprentices studying a Cert III or IV could receive up to $150 per week (up to $7,800 per year) in the first year and $100 per week (up to $5,200) in the second year of their apprenticeship.

Adult Learning

In their first Budget, the Abbott Government demonstrated their inability to comprehend the importance of adult learning.

Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey abolished the National Workforce Development Program and the Workplace English Language Literacy Program.  They went further in December slashing funding to the Skills for Education and Employment (SEE) program.

The SEE program helps jobseekers to develop speaking, reading, writing or basic maths skills.

“These cuts to apprentices and adult learners will make it so much harder for people to improve their skills to get and keep a job.

“Tony Abbott needs to help people gain the skills and training they need to enter the workforce – not cutting these services to fix last year’s bungled Budget.

“The Abbott Government needs a plan to get Australians skilled up and into work – not just a plan to keep their own jobs.”



Attachment A


Apprenticeship Cuts

  • Tools for Your Trade Program                                  Approx $915 million
  • Australian Apprenticeship Access Program                Approx $18 million
  • Australian Apprenticeship Mentoring Program            Approx $32 million
  • Accelerated Australian Apprenticeships Program        Approx $4 million
  • Apprentice to Business Owner Program                     Approx $11 million
  • Adult Australian Apprentices                                    Approx $66 million
  • Australian Apprenticeship Support Network               $10 million per year
  • Joint Group Training                                                $12.5 million*

 *$12.5 million Joint Group Training Program cut by 20 per cent this year – the program will be axed completely in 2015-16.

Adult Learning Cuts

  • National Workforce Development Fund                      Approx $125 million

  • Workplace English Language and Literacy Program     Approx $25 million

  • NPA on Training Places for Single Parents                  Approx $26 million

  • Alternative Pathways Programme                              Approx $103,000

  • Productive Ageing through Community Education       Approx $243,000

  • Skills for Education and Employment Program            Approx $43 million