The Member for Ballarat, Catherine King, said she was alarmed by figures revealing the impact of cuts to apprentices in the Ballarat electorate.
Ms King said the Liberal National Government has cut $2.75 billion from the skills portfolio, including $1 billion in cuts to apprentices through the Tools for Your Trade program and access and mentoring programs.
“These cuts have hit Ballarat apprentices hard and have had a devastating impact on apprentices in training in our region, with numbers falling from 3,109 in June 2014 to 2,248 in March 2015 – a drop of 861 local apprentices,” she said.
Ms King said in September 2013, there were 417,700 apprentices in training across Australia but because of the Abbott-Turnbull Government’s savage cuts, by September 2015 this had dropped to only 295,300 apprentices in training.
“The situation is not just bad for Ballarat, but it’s bad across the board. The figures show that across Australia, there are now 122,400 fewer apprentices in training,” Ms King said.
The Liberals’ $1 billion of savage cuts include:
- Abolishing apprenticeship programs such as mentoring, access and the Apprentice to Business Owner program.
- Replacing apprentice support with apprentice debt by abolishing the Tools for Your Trade program.
- Rebadging and cutting funding to Australian Apprenticeship Centres.
- Cutting Joint Group Training funding.
- Cutting support for adult apprentices.
“Training the workers of the future is a critical issue for the economy, for productivity and for the Ballarat community,” Ms King said.
“Before the election, former Prime Minister Tony Abbott promised that the Liberals would provide better support for Australia’s apprentices – sadly they have cut funding and defaulted to their fallback position of relying heavily on 457 visas without also investing in skills and training,” she said.
“We need to put in place the next generation of skilled tradespeople in Ballarat to take on the jobs that are emerging and to ensure that we can meet future workforce needs,” she said.
Ms King said Labor will back TAFE into the future by developing a National Priority Plan to place TAFE squarely as the public provider within the VET sector and ensure TAFE’s viability and strength into the future.
For the first time, there will be a clear description of the role and purpose of public provision at the national level.
It will describe what government expects from TAFE as the public provider and will make clear what makes it different from other providers.
“Labor has also announced a full, evidence based review of the vocational education and training system to build a stronger VET sector and weed out dodgy providers and student rip-offs,” she said.
“Our young people are our future in Ballarat and I’m proud that Labor will provide better support for apprentices and training if we’re elected on July second,” Ms King said.
Authorised by G. Wright, Australian Labor Party, 5/9 Sydney Ave, Barton, ACT 2600