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Monday, 26 May 1997
Page: 3970

Mrs ELIZABETH GRACE —My question is addressed to the Minister for Schools, Vocational Education and Training.

Opposition members interjecting

Mr SPEAKER —Order! Wait. Order! I invite the honourable member for Lilley to begin her question.

Mrs ELIZABETH GRACE —Thank you, Mr Speaker.

Opposition members interjecting

Mr SPEAKER —Members on my left!

Mrs ELIZABETH GRACE —Would the minister inform the House of the potential benefits of the government's new national system for apprentices and trainees? In particular, can the minister outline the progress that has been made in simplifying arrangements for Australian businesses, particularly those businesses in my electorate of Lilley, to take on young people in apprenticeships and traineeships?

Dr KEMP —I thank the member for Lilley for her question. I know how interested she is in ensuring that young people in her electorate have access to excellent vocational education programs. There are some excellent programs at Banyo High School and Nudgee College.

The government's policy for vocational education, and particularly the establishment of the new national apprenticeship system, strike directly at the root causes of youth unemployment which became so deeply entrenched under the failures of the previous government. It was under the previous government, of course, that the number of young people in apprenticeships and traineeships, as a proportion of the work force, reached the lowest point for three decades. It was under the policies of the previous government that one in three 14-year-olds could not read adequately after 13 years of Labor government.

For the first time, as a result of the decisions and the initiatives of this government, Australia is putting in place the first national apprenticeship system since Federation. I am very pleased to report to the House that in Adelaide last Friday the state and territory ministers agreed with the Commonwealth to lock in the vital decisions that will allow this new national apprenticeship system to come into operation. The decisions that were taken last Friday will be immensely encouraging to small business and medium size businesses which are looking to take on young people.

Mr Howard —Everyone will welcome them.

Dr KEMP —In fact, everyone will welcome these decisions except those on the other side of the House. Their whole approach, of course, has been to tie up small business in knots through their ridiculous regulation and laws to the benefit of their union mates.

On Friday last week the ministers agreed, first of all, to greatly simplified regulatory arrangements for apprenticeships and traineeships, including a significant reduction in the paperwork that will be necessary to take on an apprentice. Under the decisions taken under the new national system, in place of an existing 12 forms in the states and territories only one form will be necessary to hire an apprentice or a trainee throughout Australia.

Secondly, there will be national recognition of training providers. A training provider recognised in one state will be recognised in every state and the qualifications gained by young people in one state or territory will be recognised throughout Australia. This, again, will expand their employment opportunities.

Thirdly, there will be new funding arrangements for off-the-job training for apprentices and trainees, allowing employers, for the first time, to choose which provider will provide the off-the-job training for the apprentices. For the first time we will have a demand-driven system, not a system which is subordinate to the interests of the Labor Party's union supporters.

As these complex bureaucratic processes—which have held up the development of the apprenticeship system, demoralised so many young people and entrenched youth unemployment—are addressed by the policies of this government, we will see many new opportunities coming through for young people to get the kind of quality training that will lead them on to real jobs.