Liberals’ $1 Billion In Cuts To Apprentices Means 1651 Fewer Apprentices In Parramatta

Shadow Minister for Vocational Education Sharon Bird and Labor Member for Parramatta Julie Owens today visited the Parramatta TAFE Office to discuss the drop of apprentices in Parramatta and the crucial role played by 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 and have had a devastating impact on apprentices in training in Parramatta, with numbers falling from 4,790 in June 2014 to 3,139 in March 2015 – a drop of 1,651 local apprentices.

In September 2013, there were 417,700 apprentices in training across Australia.

Because of the Abbott-Turnbull Government’s savage cuts, by September 2015 this had dropped to only 295,300 apprentices in training. 

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

The Liberals’ $1 billion of savage cuts include:

  • Abolishing apprenticeship programs such as mentoring, access and the Apprentice to Business Owner program.
  • Replacing apprentice support with apprentice debt by abolishing the Tools for Your Trade program.
  • Rebadging and cutting funding to Australian Apprenticeship Centres.
  • Cutting Joint Group Training funding.
  • Cutting support for adult apprentices.

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.

Before the election, former Prime Minister Tony Abbott promised that the Liberals 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.

The Liberals have an appalling track record in the vocational education sector – they cannot be trusted with our TAFEs.

In New South Wales, the O’Farrell and Baird Liberal Governments have sacked more than 3,600 teachers and 1,000 support staff in the last three years alone. Course costs have escalated and the Liberals are planning to close or cut even more regional campuses.

Last year, on National TAFE Day, Bill Shorten and Sharon Bird announced Labor’s plan to back TAFE into the future 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.

For the first time, there will be a clear description of the role and purpose of public provision at the national level.

It will describe what government expects from TAFE as the public provider and will make clear what makes it different from other providers.

Having defined the unique role of TAFE as our public provider, the negotiation with the States and Territories will work to deliver on this by providing quarantined and guaranteed funding to TAFE.

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.

The vocational education and training sector deserves a comprehensive, evidence-based approach to policy-making to ensure it is fit for the critical task of preparing Australians for the jobs of the future.

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.