NSW Skills Minister Needs To Stress Importance Of Apprentices To Abbott Government

Sharon Bird said that NSW Skills Minister, John Barilaro, is right to be concerned about skills shortages in trades such as plumbers, electricians and builders as reported in The Australian today. 

“Minister Barilaro is also right to be worried about the Abbott Government’s fall-back position of relying heavily on 457 work visas rather than investing in skills and training.”  

The National Centre for Vocational Education and Research (NCVER) report, Apprentices and Trainees 2014 December Quarter, states that in the 12 months ending 31 December 2014 commencements decreased by 21.9 per cent and completions decreased by 17.8 per cent compared to the previous 12 months. 

In their very first Budget and at every opportunity since, the Abbott Government took the axe to almost every bit of funding for apprentices including:

  • $1 billion in cuts to apprenticeship programs such as mentoring, access and the Apprentice to Business Owner program  in the 2014-15 Budget;
  • Replaced apprentice support with apprentice debt by abolishing the Tools for Your Trade Program;
  • Rebadged and cut funding to Australian Apprenticeship Centres;
  • Abolished the Joint Group Training program;
  • Cutting support for adult apprentices;
  • Put forward no new ideas for training people for the jobs of the future.

“I hope that Minister Barilaro takes his concerns to the Abbott Government in Canberra and emphasises the need for the Abbott Government to start looking at ways to support apprentices, rather than cut every bit of funding that helps our apprentices start and complete their apprenticeship. 

“Back in May, Federal Skills Minister Simon Birmingham said that he was desperately trying to work on policies and strategies to rebuild the apprenticeship system – the system that his Government cut $1billion from.  We’ve heard nothing since. 

“Labor is developing policies to rebuild our economy and create new jobs that will last into the future.  The only jobs that Tony Abbott and his Government are interested in are their own.”