‘SKILLING AUSTRALIA’ APPRENTICE SCHEME UNRAVELLING RAPIDLY

5 Jun 2017

The government’s big ticket Budget promises are unravelling rapidly.

SENATOR THE HON DOUG CAMERON
SHADOW MINISTER FOR SKILLS AND APPRENTICESHIPS

SENATOR FOR NEW SOUTH WALES

THE HON KATE ELLIS MP

SHADOW MINISTER FOR TAFE AND VOCATIONAL EDUCATION
MEMBER FOR ADELAIDE

‘SKILLING AUSTRALIA’ APPRENTICE SCHEME UNRAVELLING RAPIDLY

The government’s big ticket Budget promises are unravelling rapidly.

Labor notes that the communique arising from the COAG Ministers meeting on the new ‘Skilling Australia Fund’ doesn’t mention TAFE and downgrades the promise of 300,000 new apprenticeships to an aspiration.

The lack of focus on TAFE is particularly disappointing. Without a strong, effective public vocational education system, the chance of delivering on the promised 300,000 quality apprenticeships is negligible.

The Budget promise to deliver 300,000 apprenticeships is wilting under scrutiny. Answers at Budget Estimates this week revealed that the number was ‘indicative’ only. It has been further downgraded to a hope – it’s now ‘up to 300,000’ apprentices, trainees and “higher level skilled Australians”.

The government has no way of achieving that target while it cuts over $600 million from the current funding arrangements.

It is also highly doubtful that the funding for the scheme will be delivered via charges on companies using foreign workers. As The Australian’s John Ross said: ‘New charges on skilled visas, designed to bankroll the federal government’s skills fund will not raise enough money to finance the scheme. And if it does raise enough money to bankroll the fund, it will have failed in its objective of discouraging skilled migration.’

Labor will hold the government to account to make sure there is sufficient funding available, that TAFE plays a central role, and that the government does not prioritise low quality, low skill traineeships to achieve the 300,000 promised.

After four years of neglect in VET, skills and apprenticeships, this belated attempt by the Coalition to address the skills crisis leaves many questions to be answered.

SATURDAY, 3 JUNE 2017