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Tuesday, 27 May 2003
Page: 15030


Ms LEY (2:41 PM) —My question is addressed to the Minister for Education, Science and Training. Would the minister inform the House what the government is doing to support apprenticeships and training?


Dr NELSON (Minister for Education, Science and Training) —I thank the member for Farrer for her question—a pilot, a musterer, a shearer's cook, a farmer's wife, a mother of three, a university graduate and an example of the rich diversity of members on this side of the parliament. Last week in the electorate of Farrer, I visited a great example of the government's commitment to apprenticeships and training. In ION at Lavington, just outside Albury—a factory that employs 1,150 people, 300 of whom are apprentices and trainees—we have a great example of a manufacturing company producing and exporting automatic transmissions, particularly for Ford.

One of the apprentices, who is fairly typical of the young Australians that are benefiting from this government's policies, is 19-year-old Jade Styler. Despite gaining an outstanding result in year 12, and being under an enormous amount of pressure to go to university, she said, `I would rather be an apprentice,' and took up an apprenticeship as an electrical fitter at ION. She is one of the happiest, most fulfilled young people that I have had the privilege to meet.

In this budget the government has announced an $8.4 billion commitment over four years to vocational education and training—$2.8 billion specifically for new apprentices and trainees. On budget night I sent out to the state and territory ministers for education and training the government's three-year offer for the Australian National Training Authority agreement. It is $3.6 billion over three years, it represents a 12½ per cent increase in funding and it includes $325 million of growth funding built into the base, which we expect the state and territory governments to match. In addition to that the government is offering $220 million in extra new funding—again, $119 million of which we expect to be matched by the states. That alone will create up to 71,000 extra places in training for young people, Indigenous students, those with disabilities, mature age people and those living in remote parts of Australia.

One of the key reforms of this government has been to significantly expand apprenticeships and training. We have also announced a 16 per cent increase in funding for new apprentices, for employers to take on apprentices over the next year and New Apprenticeship Centres in 300 sites to support them throughout the country. There are now 374,000 Australians in apprenticeships and training, almost half of whom are under the age of 25. In the last year, completions—which are very important—increased by 15 per cent to 110,000. One of the key things that drives this government's policies is that our vision of education and training is that every young person should find and achieve his or her own potential, whatever that is. We are determined that young people should know that their choices in apprenticeship, in TAFE and in employment do not in any way mean that their educational choices or their lives are any less valuable than those who take up a university education.