Minister Must Not Abandon Apprentices, Students and Workers

The Commission of Audit has recommended the Federal Government abandons the field on vocational education and training.

"It shows the twisted priorities of the Abbott Government, who will send jobs overseas, and at the same time walk away from any commitment to a national and coordinated approach to skills development," Shadow Minister for Vocational Training, Sharon Bird said today. 

"These proposals would leave Australians stranded in a divided, more expensive and lower quality vocational system. 

"A competitive Australia must have a smart, well-educated and well-trained population – all Australians have a right to the education and training they need to get a job and the federal government must not abandon its responsibility to help in this task.

"The model recommended will only provide greater incentives for states to cut their funding to vocational education and training and, no doubt, then expect the Commonwealth to pick up the financial pieces resulting from higher unemployment and skill shortages.

“The Commonwealth has used support for apprenticeships and upskilling existing workers for many years in partnership with industry to create entry level jobs for young people and relevant skills for existing workers and the companies they work with. The programs have also been important to restructuring in industries and regions."

Given that many peak employer bodies have expressed support for national vocational education and training programs, the Minister must immediately explain the future of: 

  • support for apprentices – apprenticeships are often in skills shortage areas and there is an important role for the Federal Government
  • apprentice mentoring programs – this includes support for Group Training Organisations
  •  the National Workforce Development Fund (NWDF) and SkillsConnect – this has been strongly supported by industry and industry groups and enables workers to upskill and obtain new qualifications;
  •  language, literacy and numeracy programs funded by the Commonwealth Government – programs to provide these skills include SEE and WELL


 FRIDAY, 2 MAY 2014