Birmingham: Hockey Has Done A ‘Brilliant Job’ - Cutting Skills Funding?

Minister Simon Birmingham is delusional if he thinks that Joe Hockey has done a ‘brilliant job on budget restoration and job creation’ by cutting $2 billion in funding for apprenticeship support, skills and training. 

In leaping to Treasurer Joe Hockey’s defence, the Minister has endorsed the Treasurer’s $2 billion in cuts to his very own portfolio. 

“Instead of fighting to save Joe Hockey’s job, Simon Birmingham should be fighting to stop Joe Hockey ‘s cuts to apprentices and training,” said Shadow Minister for Vocational Education, Sharon Bird. 

In their very first Budget and at every opportunity since, Joe Hockey has taken the axe to almost every bit of funding for apprentices including:

  • $1 billion in cuts to apprenticeship programs such as mentoring, access and the Apprentice to Business Owner program  in the 2014-15 Budget;

  • Replaced apprentice support with apprentice debt by abolishing the Tools for Your Trade Program;

  • Rebadged and cut funding to Australian Apprenticeship Centres;

  • Abolished the Joint Group Training program;

  • Cutting support for adult apprentices;

  • Put forward no new ideas for training people for the jobs of the future.

This has impacted on apprenticeship commencements and completions which have decreased by approximately 20 per cent according to the National Centre for Vocational Education and Research (NCVER) report, Apprentices and Trainees 2014 December Quarter

“What is even more disgraceful is that Simon Birmingham has endorsed cuts to adult education during Adult Learners’ Week,” Sharon Bird said.  

Joe Hockey abolished the National Workforce Development Fund, the Workplace English Language and Literacy Program and then later last year in MYEFO he cut funding to the Skills for Education and Employment (SEE) program.

“If the Minister thinks it is “brilliant” that there has been $2 billion in cuts to his own portfolio, then he needs to get out into the community and start talking to apprentices, and workers trying to upgrade their skills and retrain – it is now harder than ever to enter or re-enter the workforce.” 

“Simon Birmingham should stop fighting for Joe Hockey’s job and start doing his own day job.”