Minister Must Put Money Where His Mouth Is

Sharon Bird, Shadow Minister for Vocational Education, is calling on Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane to guarantee that vocational education and training (VET) programs and funding will not be cut in the May Budget following his comments after the COAG Industry and Skills Council in Brisbane yesterday.

“Building a highly skilled workforce is central to driving business innovation and industry expansion.  We want to encourage more businesses to engage in training, which will create new job opportunities and boost Australia’s international competitiveness across a range of industries”

Ian Macfarlane, 3 April 2014

“The Minister needs to put his money where his mouth is and guarantee that vocational education and training programs and funding will not be cut in the May Budget,” Sharon Bird said.

Sharon Bird called on the Minister to:

1 - Guarantee that co-investment programs like the National Workforce Development Fund and the Workplace English Language and Literacy program will not be cut.  The government talks about how important it is to link industry with training.  The NWDF and WELL programs, established under the former Labor Government, have been a great example of the government and industry investing and working together to increase workplace skills.  The Minister needs to guarantee that these programs are not under threat.

2 – Guarantee that we will continue to have a strong public provider in TAFE.  TAFE has worked collaboratively with governments at all levels to ensure that skills needs are met across many new and emerging sectors, particularly in areas such as health and aged care, and we need to ensure that their capacity to deliver this continues into the future. 

3 – Guarantee that all apprenticeship programs and support, including group training programs, are secure and will not be cut. 

“We constantly hear the Minister talking about red tape and regulation but we hear nothing about funding guarantees or the Abbott Government’s commitment to the VET sector.  Has the Minister seen the Commission of Audit report?  Will the recommendations contained within the report impact on the VET sector?

In Government, Labor made a record $19 billion investment in skills and training for smarter jobs and a stronger nation.   The VET sector plays a vital role in shaping our economy and to help Australians secure a job and earn a decent income.

“The VET sector is crying out from some certainty from the Minister.  The Minister needs to guarantee that programs and funding in this vital part of the economy are not under threat,” Sharon Bird concluded.