NEW APPRENTICESHIP NUMBERS DROP UNDER TURNBULL GOVERNMENT

5 Sep 2016

The latest apprentice and trainee data from the National Centre for Vocational Education and Research (NCVER) demonstrates that the dysfunction and incompetence of the Turnbull Government extends to the Skills and Apprenticeship area.

SENATOR THE HON DOUG CAMERON

SHADOW MINISTER FOR HOUSING AND HOMELESSNESS

SHADOW MINISTER FOR SKILLS AND APPRENTICESHIPS

SENATOR FOR NEW SOUTH WALES

 

NEW APPRENTICESHIP NUMBERS DROP UNDER TURNBULL GOVERNMENT  
 

The latest apprentice and trainee data from the National Centre for Vocational Education and Research (NCVER) demonstrates that the dysfunction and incompetence of the Turnbull Government extends to the Skills and Apprenticeship area.

The latest release of apprentice and trainee data show that commencements in the March 2016 quarter fell by 9.4 per cent compared with the previous year, meaning 17,600 fewer people started an apprenticeship.

According to NCVER  the decrease can be attributed to a decline in the number of commencements in trade occupations, down 10.8 per cent to 27,900 for the March 2016 quarter when compared with the March 2015 quarter.

In total, there were 286,500 apprentices and trainees in training as at 31 March 2016, a 10.2 per cent fall from 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.

These statistics are bad news for the Australian skill base and for young Australians who are seeking apprenticeships in Australian industry. This is also bad news for our longer term capacity to compete in international trade and build skilled jobs in the Australian economy.

It is no coincidence that the Assistant Minister for Vocational Education and Skills, Karen Andrews, chose today to announce two new pilot programs to test so-called "alternative apprenticeship models".

The timing of this announcement is designed to divert attention from the Turnbull Government's failure to maintain apprenticeship numbers and its lack of vision or direction in skill development.

 

Handing out $9.2 million for the Government’s pet projects cannot disguise their incapacity to address the fundamental problems facing our skill base.

 

Previous government decisions to reduce VET funding by $1 billion while presiding over the destruction of a strong TAFE system have contributed to the decline in apprentice numbers. Allowing private sector training companies to rip off apprentices and the public purse is typical of this incompetent, gaffe-prone government.

 

Forcing apprentices into debt as part of their ill-conceived Trade Support Loans has also contributed to the decline in apprentice numbers.

 

Research undertaken by the AMWU in 2015 showed that apprentices are already struggling with the cost of living and, despite being frugal with their money, are increasingly in debt. In a major national survey of apprentices conducted by the union it was revealed that:

 

▪ About 60 per cent of apprentices have less than 1 month’s pay in savings

 

▪ About 50 per cent report having other forms of debt

 

▪ Almost 60 per cent report struggling to pay their bills

 

This government is incompetent, lacking in vision and direction for our VET sector. The Australian economy will pay a heavy price for the chaos the Turnbull Government has allowed to breed in the VET sector.

 

Assistant Minister Andrews must explain the decline in apprenticeship numbers and clearly outline how any pilot programs being funded by the public will stop this worrying slide.

 

TUESDAY, 6 SEPTEMBER 2016