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Tuesday, 10 September 1996
Page: 3832

Mrs WEST —My question is addressed to the Minister for Schools, Vocational Education and Training. Minister, how will appren ticeships assist the significant number of secondary school students who do not go on to tertiary education find employment?

Dr KEMP —One of the great contrasts between the government and the opposition in our policies for young people is that we believe in getting young people into real jobs. One of the great historic pathways into real jobs has been the apprenticeship system.

One of the tragedies of the previous government is that it virtually abandoned the apprenticeship system. It allowed it to wither on the vine. It did nothing to modernise it. It did nothing to expand opportunities in apprenticeships. As a consequence of this, in 1995, the number of young people in apprenticeships and traineeships as a proportion of the work force was the lowest it had been for three decades.

It is because of the apprenticeship decisions in this budget that this budget can truly claim to be a budget for young Australians. Over the next four years, this government will be putting some $200 million into the modernisation of the apprenticeship and training system. This money will be used to produce new apprenticeships in new industries, in information industries, service industries, and multi-media. It will be used to modernise the traditional apprenticeship system. It will encourage flexible hiring arrangements and multiple workplace placements for apprentices through the group training companies.

One of the key innovations—and I think one of the most exciting innovations that has got tremendous public support—is that it will be used to develop school based apprenticeships. A young person can be in employment for a couple of days a week and spend three days a week in school studying for the off-the-job component. As outlined in the budget, over the next four years the government will be putting $187 million into the development of vocational education in schools.

Over the last two weeks, as I have been visiting high schools around the country and talking to students, teachers and principals, I have found tremendous support for this initiative of the government. I draw the attention of the House to the reaction, first of all, of the Australian Secondary Principals Association who have strongly welcomed the government's decisions in this regard. They said:

At long last—

Mr Howard —At long last!

Dr KEMP —`At long last'.

Mr Howard —After 13 years.

Dr KEMP —After 13 years of Labor! They said:

At long last there is a recognition that vocational education is important to secondary schools and has a crucial place in the secondary curriculum.

They know that the 30 per cent of students who drop out before year 12, for whom you provided essentially nothing except the unemployment queues—

Mr McClelland —Mr Acting Speaker, on a point of order: with respect to the minister, `you' had absolutely no role or purpose to provide any jobs. The honourable minister should have directed—

Mr ACTING SPEAKER —Thank you, I know the standing orders. The minister will direct his remarks through the chair.

Dr KEMP —Indeed, Mr Acting Speaker. Let me draw the attention of the House also to the reaction of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry which represents many tens of thousands of small businesses around this country which will be party to the school based apprenticeships. The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry said the following:

We believe the Modern Australian Apprenticeship and Traineeship System (MAATS) will put greater emphasis on providing opportunities for the 75 per cent of secondary school leavers who do not go to university.

MAATS will deliver the means for business to provide real employment opportunities for young Australians.

Mr Acting Speaker, you could not get anything stronger than that. The fact is the government has heard young Australians. They were sick of being churned through the unemployment queues and put onto mickey mouse training programs. They want real jobs, real opportunities—and that is what this government will deliver.

Mr Howard —Mr Speaker, I ask that further questions be placed on the Notice Paper . We have had 20 questions today and it is 25 minutes after 3. It makes the last 13 years absolutely pitiful.