How Do You Talk About Jobs And Growth While Cutting Funding For Skills And Training?


The axe has fallen on the skills portfolio for the third year running under the Liberals – rather than investing in skilling up our future workforce for the innovation economy, it has been third time unlucky for the skills portfolio.


After sustaining two years of cuts totalling $2.5 billion, including a $1 billion cut to apprentices and apprenticeship support, the Liberals have axed another $247 million from skills and training and failed to introduce any new initiatives to help people get the qualifications they need to access quality jobs and long-term careers.


The Liberals have completely ignored the cries from industry, workers and the community by refusing to invest in the skills of our future workforce.


The Liberals’ previous $1 billion cuts to apprentice programs have hit hard. Across Australia in September 2013 there were 417,700 apprentices in training. Now, because of the Liberal Government’s savage cuts there are only 295,300 apprentices in training (September 2015).  


That’s 122,400 fewer apprentices in training across the country.


Peak bodies such as the Australian Industry Group have been clearly telling the government:

“Apprentices provide vital skills to key parts of our economy.  Without urgent and meaningful intervention, the apprenticeship system in Australia will continue to underperform and fail to deliver for business and the community.”
Innes Willox, AiGroup Chief Executive, 14 April 2016

Last Budget, then Minister Birmingham said that the Government was desperately working on policies and strategies to rebuild the apprenticeship system.


“what we’re desperately trying to do now is work on policies and strategies that can rebuild the system”

Minister Simon Birmingham, 2GB, 21 May 2015


This Budget, the Liberals have refused to invest in apprentices and trainees – instead they prefer an inferior internship model that doesn’t provide meaningful training.


The vocational education sector has been severely damaged by the explosion in abuses and waste under the VET FEE-HELP scheme due to mismanagement by the Abbott/Turnbull governments.  It needs urgent action and the best this Government can do in this Budget is throw $10 million at an information program.


This repeats their error of too little, too late on cleaning up this problem and restoring trust in the sector.  It is also unsurprising that they have had nothing to say about restoring TAFE across the nation to assist in the task of restoring the reputation of the sector – they continue their disdain for public education provision.


For all their talk about transitioning economies, innovation and jobs of the future they have completely failed to invest in a critical enabling sector – vocational education and training.  Their record of failure continues:


Nothing for apprentices and training.


Nothing to support training and retraining our workers.


Nothing to support TAFE.