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Tuesday, 3 May 1994
Page: 112

(Question No. 1091)

Senator Jones asked the Minister for Employment, Education and Training, upon notice, on 24 February 1994:

  (1) Has the Federal Government been approached by the Sydney Olympic Committee on the question of the need for foreign language guides and translators for visitors to the games.

  (2) What steps has the Government taken to attract Australians into taking foreign language and tourist guide courses to ensure as many as possible of these Olympic positions are filled locally.

  (3) What are the present and anticipated future number of Australian citizens taking foreign language courses aimed specifically at the tourism promotion and guide industry.

  (4) What educational and financial incentives are in place or planned to attract Australians to undertake these educational courses with a view to creating permanent employment in the tourism industry.

Senator Schacht —The Minister for Employment, Education and Training has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

  (1)—(4) In 1991 the Commonwealth funded a study to determine labour force planning needs to the year 2000. This report identified language training as a major priority in the context of a significant change in the mix of international tourists arriving in Australia and of anticipated increases in the numbers arriving from Asia and Europe. The importance of language and cultural understanding skills has since been underlined by Sydney's hosting of the Olympic Games in 2000.

  In 1993 Commonwealth and State Ministers for Employment, Education and Training decided to add cultural understanding to the key competencies. NSW will be the first state to pilot these in its school curriculum.

  The Commonwealth's major involvement in skills training for the tourism and hospitality industry is through the network of national and state industry training advisory boards which set the strategic direction for training in the industry. These boards are industry owned and operate with the participation and financial assistance of the Department of Employment, Education and Training. Responsibility for funding these boards transferred to the Australian National Training Authority (ANTA) in 1994.

  The national industry training advisory board, Tourism Training Australia, is an important participant in the Tourism Industry Sydney Olympic Games Forum which is an industry based organisation established to ensure that the interests of the Tourism and Hospitality industry, including language skills development, are represented and co-ordinated in the lead up to the Sydney Olympics. The Forum works closely with the Sydney Olympic Organising Committee.

  The Commonwealth funded Tourism Training Australia to develop training programs for Australians to train as tour guides for Japanese tourists. The training is accredited and is underpinned by national competency standards endorsed by the National Training Board.

  Tourism Training Australia is also a key participant in an industry run Japanese language assessment system for tour guides that tests and recognises the language and cultural awareness skills of individuals.

  In its national training plan, recently submitted to ANTA, Tourism Training Australia identified the further development of language and cultural awareness training as important elements in the industry's strategic direction. The plan highlights the need to go beyond the current arrangements in place for Japanese language training to accommodate other growth languages, eg, Korean, Mandarin Chinese and Indonesian. The objective is to increase the amount of training in the language area and to ensure that the language training which occurs in schools is relevant to the needs of the industry.

  My Department has designated a senior officer in New South Wales to liaise with the Olympic organising parties. At this early stage there have been no significant developments. However, the Department is ready to organise training for jobseekers through its labour market programs to meet identified labour market needs.