Liberals’ $1 Billion In Cuts = 4,371 Fewer Apprentices In Newcastle And The Hunter

Sharon Bird visited Maitland, Newcastle and Belmont TAFEs with Meryl Swanson, Sharon Claydon and Pat Conroy today to discuss the drop of apprentices in training in Newcastle and the Hunter and the importance of TAFE in training and retraining Australia’s workforce. 

The Liberals have cut $2.75 billion from the Skills portfolio, including $1 billion in cuts to apprentices through the Tools for Your Trade program and access and mentoring programs. 

These cuts have hit local apprentices hard.

They have had a devastating impact on apprentices in training in Newcastle and the Hunter, with numbers falling from 14,399 in June 2014 to 10,028 in March 2015.

That is a drop of 4,371 local apprentices, which is 30 per cent fewer apprentices in Newcastle and the Hunter.  The local breakdown of apprentice numbers is as follows: 


June 2014

March 2015




























In September 2013, there were 417,700 apprentices in training across Australia. Because of the Abbott-Turnbull Government’s savage cuts, this had dropped to only 295,300 apprentices in training by September 2015.  

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

Before the last election, the Liberals promised that they would provide better support for Australia’s apprentices – sadly they have cut funding and defaulted to their fallback position of relying heavily on 457 visas without also investing in skills and training. 

Last year, on National TAFE Day, Bill Shorten and Sharon Bird announced Labor’s plan to back TAFE by developing a National Priority Plan to place TAFE squarely as the public provider within the VET sector and ensure TAFE’s viability and strength into the future. 

Labor has also announced a full, evidence-based review of the vocational education and training system to build a stronger VET sector and weed out dodgy providers and student rip-offs.

Training the workers of the future is a critical issue for our economy, for productivity and for communities. We need to put in place the next generation of skilled tradespeople to take on the jobs that are emerging and to ensure that we can meet future workforce needs. 

It is vital that we train and retrain our workforce to deliver on improving the participation, productivity, innovation and growth efforts required for the nation. 

MONDAY, 23 MAY 2016