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Wednesday, 26 May 2010
Page: 4260

Ms JACKSON (7:45 PM) —It had been my intention tonight to advise the House about my wonderful trade training centre in Hasluck. It involves two schools: Southern River College and Yule Brook College, who work in a cluster program with the Sevenoaks Senior College. I want to say how pleased I am that the project was part of round 1of the Trade Training Centres in Schools Program. It is a wonderful proposed centre. It is intended to address skills shortages in the manufacturing and automotive industries, and the funding is being used to construct a new facility which will include two workshops.

You can imagine my concern, then, when I became aware that the proposals outlined in the Leader of the Opposition’s budget reply, the subsequent explanation by the shadow Treasurer and the subsequent list of proposed funding cuts by the shadow finance minister made it clear that the opposition has identified trade training centres as one of the areas they intend to slash. This is of significant concern to me given the issue of skills shortages in my state of Western Australia. This is an area where we need a bipartisan commitment to ensure that we train the next generation of automotive workers, metal workers, carpenters, electricians, boilermakers, fitters and all of the traditional trades.

In the budget that the Treasurer took us through last Tuesday, 12 May, Labor committed a further $384.2 million over the next two financial years for trade training centre programs. Some 302 schools have been promised funding—a substantial list, including some 52 schools in Western Australia, three of which are in the electorates neighbouring mine and that also intend to look at cluster arrangements for trade training. It is a substantial hit list, and I would urge members of the opposition to reconsider this strategy. The Chamber of Commerce and Industry Western Australia regularly berates us all with the need for greater attention and action on skills development training in Western Australia, especially in the trades area.

One of my own local chambers of commerce, the Swan Chamber of Commerce, wrote to me immediately following budget night concerned that they thought that they had heard in the Treasurer’s speech that funding to trade training centres in schools was to be slashed. I am pleased to reassure them that is certainly not the agenda of the Rudd Labor government though it certainly will be the agenda—if we are ever unfortunate enough to have one—of an Abbott coalition government. So I want to reassure them that funding for trade training skills centres in schools will continue under the Labor government.

We are feeling this very much in my own electorate. We have suffered a critical skills shortage partly from, for example, the closure of the Midland workshops where many hundreds of tradespeople were trained and prepared for industry. That closure occurred over 15 years ago by a state Liberal government in my home state. Ever since, we frankly have suffered skill shortages in that area and in related areas and industries that rely on the Midland industrial area.

I want to again reiterate I have a wonderful experience with trade training centres in schools. I know that in my electorate Southern River College in Gosnells and Yule Brook in Maddington will both benefit greatly from this proposed cluster arrangement. Indeed, one of the other participants in the cluster is the Clontarf Foundation that has had significant success in Western Australia working with young Indigenous men, improving their discipline, life skills and self-esteem. They have seen an improvement in retention rates of young Aboriginal boys to between 80 and 90 per cent. They have seen a 600 per cent increase in the number of boys remaining at school for year 12 and 75 per cent of their graduates are engaged in full-time employment within one year of graduating. It is students exactly like these who are benefiting from Labor’s investment in trade training centres in schools.

We will continue to ensure that we provide that funding, provide a strong transition from school to work or training because we believe that is a crucial time in every person’s life. Students need to be able to make a successful transition from school to work, particularly in areas where they face the prospect of diminished opportunities.