TRADIES UNDER ATTACK

9 Aug 2016

Labor notes with deep concern the announcement by the latest Assistant Minister for Vocational Education and Skills, The Hon Karen Andrews, that $9.2 million of government funding will be spent to experiment with "new systems" of training and apprenticeships.

SENATOR THE HON DOUG CAMERON

SHADOW MINISTER FOR HOUSING AND HOMELESSNESS

SHADOW MINISTER FOR SKILLS AND APPRENTICESHIPS

SENATOR FOR NEW SOUTH WALES

  

TRADIES UNDER ATTACK

Labor notes with deep concern the announcement by the latest Assistant Minister for Vocational Education and Skills, The Hon Karen Andrews, that $9.2 million of government funding will be spent to experiment with "new systems" of training and apprenticeships.

The announcement by the Minister is ill considered and based on a confused and confusing report produced by a narrowly based Committee with limited practical experience of the apprenticeship system.

Labor understands that apprenticeships and proper skill development strategies are critical to meet the needs of industry, technological development and increased international competition.

Labor also understands that the welfare and rights of individual apprentices, and the integrity of our skilled trades, cannot be collateral damage in any consideration of changes to the apprenticeship system.

The so called "High Level Advisory Group", far from offering considered insights into how the system could be strengthened, has simply dished up a tired old standard Coalition agenda based on attacks on the rights at work of apprentices.

The Coalition members of the Advisory Group have been part of a government which cut $1billion from apprenticeship support and has driven a massive decline in Apprenticeship numbers under the Abbott and Turnbull governments. Neither industry nor the community can have confidence in the Turnbull government to stop the decline.

The Advisory Group held four meetings over several weeks in 2015 and consulted with an unspecified group of organisations while ignoring institutions that have had a long history of constructive engagement with industry and government.

The current Apprenticeship system has served Australia well and has evolved and developed as skills, technology and the needs of industry have changed.

  • Further evolution of the apprenticeship system must be achieved within some important principles.
  • Apprentices must have access to broad based skill training including training on new technology and digital skills.
  • Apprentices must have access to a combination of technical and practical training with on and off the job components.
  • Competencies must be portable and nationally recognised and developed in the context of employment under a Training Contract.
  • Broad-based, portable skills should be enhanced by, and not replaced by, enterprise specific skills.
  • Enterprise training must not displace nationally recognised apprenticeships for nationally consistent trades.
  • Apprentices must not finish their apprenticeship with crippling debts for technical training.
  • Industry and government must recognise that apprenticeships are an investment in economic and social growth.
  • The TAFE system is a source of national competitive advantage and an appropriate balance must be restored between private training providers and TAFE.

Labor will consult with the cross bench on moving to establish a Senate committee inquiry into the implications of the government's ill-considered approach to the Australian apprenticeship system.

 

TUESDAY, 9 AUGUST 2016