Liberals' Savage Cuts Equal 909 Fewer Apprentices in Flynn

The number of apprentices in Flynn has plunged by more than 900 in less than a year, thanks to savage Liberal cuts to programs designed to help young workers train for a job.

The Member for Cunningham, Sharon Bird, and the Labor candidate for Flynn, Zac Beers, today visited Gladstone Area Group Apprentices Ltd to discuss the importance of TAFE in training and retraining Australia’s workforce.

Zac Beers also called on Ken O’Dowd to come clean on the Liberals’ secret plans for TAFE.

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 Flynn, with numbers falling from 3,993 in June 2014 to 3,084 in March 2015 – a drop of 909 local apprentices.

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

As a result of the Liberal Government’s savage cuts there are now only 295,300 apprentices in training (at September 2015) – that’s 122,400 apprentices across Australia. 

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 critical 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, Tony Abbott promised that the Liberals would provide better support for Australia’s apprentices.

Instead 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 vocational education – they cannot be trusted with our TAFEs.

The Palaszczuk Labor Government has revitalised TAFE in Queensland by funding the Rescuing TAFE initiative. This $34 million program means there will be more training places, more student support places and up to 100 extra teaching and support areas.

Federal Labor has a plan to back TAFE into the future by developing a National Priority Plan to place it as the public provider within the VET sector and ensure its viability.

For the first time there will be a clear description of what government expects from TAFE as the public provider and what makes it different from other providers.

Having defined the vital role of TAFE as our public provider, we will work with the States and Territories to provide quarantined and guaranteed funding.

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

Students and providers deserve a comprehensive approach to policy-making to make sure the sector is preparing Australians for the jobs of the future.

It is vital that we train and retrain our workforce to improve our participation, productivity, innovation and growth.

MONDAY, 30 MAY 2016