Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Monday, 15 September 2003
Page: 20010

Mr ANTHONY SMITH (2:36 PM) —My question is addressed to the Minister for Education, Science and Training. Would the minister provide the House with the most recent figures on the government's New Apprenticeships program and its success in providing opportunities for training and apprenticeships? Is the minister aware of other statements or policies which could impact on those opportunities?

Dr NELSON (Minister for Education, Science and Training) —I thank the member for Casey for his question and also for his very strong advocacy for automotive parts industries in Lilydale and Kilsyth in his electorate. This year the Howard government will invest $684 million specifically in support of apprentices and trainees, a 16 per cent increase on last year. It is obviously having an impact.

Last week the National Centre for Vocational Education Research released the latest figures for apprentices and trainees in Australia. There are now 396,000 Australians—more than half of them young people—in apprenticeships and traineeships throughout Australia, an 11 per cent increase to the end of 30 June in the last year alone. In addition to that, 268,000 Australians commenced an apprenticeship or traineeship last year. That represents an eight per cent increase over the last year. Importantly, completions—those who finished their apprenticeship—reached 121,000, which is a 14 per cent increase. Perhaps one of the most pleasing figures is that six per cent of those who started an apprenticeship last year did so in a traditional trade. Especially important for a school system that has been obsessed with sending young people to universities, five per cent of those who begin an apprenticeship now do so in a school.

I was asked about alternative policies. It has been a week since I challenged the federal Australian Labor Party to raise any kind of objection to or concern with measures announced in the New South Wales state Labor budget which will have a serious impact on the participation of young people, in particular, in apprenticeships. There has been a $47 million tax applied to employers trying to take on apprentices and trainees in New South Wales with the removal of a workers compensation exemption. Members of the Labor Party might appear to be uninterested, but I challenge any member to go and spend a little bit of time with a group training company trying to find an apprenticeship for a young person, a person with a disability, an Aboriginal person or a mature age worker. What the New South Wales government has done will impact on those looking for apprenticeships.

In addition to that, not a word has been said by the Australian Labor Party about the 300 per cent increase in up-front compulsory TAFE fees being levied by the New South Wales Labor government on young people trying to get support for their apprenticeships or traineeships. This government is absolutely determined to support, with both philosophy and policy, career and training and life-changing opportunities for young Australians in apprenticeships and traineeships. These figures should be celebrated, because behind them are training, career and life-changing opportunities for young Australians.