FORD CLOSURE DEEPENS APPRENTICESHIP AND SKILLS CRISIS

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7 Oct 2016

The closure of the Ford production line is a dark day for Australian industry, and particularly for skills and apprenticeships.

FORD CLOSURE DEEPENS APPRENTICESHIP AND SKILLS CRISIS


The closure of the Ford production line is a dark day for Australian industry, and particularly for skills and apprenticeships.

There has been a drop of more than 10,000 apprentices and trainees in-training in the automotive and engineering trades since 2012 and today’s closure will only accelerate that decline.

 

Auto manufacturing has been a driver of high-skilled jobs and innovation for more than 90 years. Thousands of apprentices have passed through Ford’s system, and have boosted the skills of workers across the entire economy.

The Abbott-Turnbull Government stands condemned for destroying the car industry.     

With Ford ending local car production today, and the looming end of manufacturing at Holden and Toyota, up to 40,000 jobs may end up being lost across the manufacturing industry. 

 

Apprenticeships are already in precipitous decline.The latest figures, from 31 March 2016, show a 10.2 per cent fall in apprenticeships since 31 March 2015.

Since coming to power, the Liberal National Coalition have cut $1 billion from apprenticeship support, seeing apprentice numbers fall by more than 128,000.

Commencements in the March 2016 quarter fell by 9.3 per cent compared with the previous year, meaning 17,600 fewer people started an apprenticeship.

The neglect and incompetence of the Turnbull Government will have devastating consequences for Australia's skill base, productivity and international competitiveness.

In the face of such reckless neglect and ideologically-driven disdain for Australian manufacturing from the Liberal and National Parties, Labor will work with industry and unions to ensure the nation’s skills base is maintained and expanded, and that apprentices continue to learn broad industry skills.

With predictions that 40 per cent of current jobs could be lost to automation over the next two decades, and with permanent, high, structural unemployment, underemployment, and insecure work, it is incumbent on any national government to support the creation and maintenance of transferable skills.

The workers who will lose their jobs due to this closure need to be supported with a strategic skills plan that will help them gain work. There also needs to be a national plan for skills and apprenticeships, not the ad hoc, piecemeal approach taken by the Turnbull Government so far.

The Turnbull Government seems stuck in the past, unable to see that the future of work requires cooperation between government, industry and workers to develop a skills base that will ensure a productive, prosperous country.

 

FRIDAY, 7 OCTOBER 2016