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Tuesday, 22 October 2002
Page: 5639

Senator ALSTON (Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts) (6:44 PM) —I thank honourable senators for their contributions. The Vocational Education and Training Funding Amendment Bill 2002 appropriates $1,094,020 million for vocational education and training in 2003. The total figure includes an amount of $12.381 million, provided under the Australians Working Together initiative of the government, and a first instalment of $4.545 million to deliver new training opportunities for people with a disability under the Recognising and Improving the Capacity of People with a Disability initiative.

The bill will also increase the amount previously appropriated for 2002 by $24.348 million in line with normal price adjustments. The $230 million in Commonwealth growth funding takes to the highest level ever the Commonwealth funding to the states for vocational education and training. The National Centre for Vocational Education Research indicates that there are 362,140 new apprentices in training as at 30 June 2002, a 15 per cent increase since the corresponding period last year and a 250 per cent increase since 1995. In 2001, a report by the national centre noted that the Australian system of New Apprenticeships is among the best in the world—fourth in OECD figures— in terms of proportional coverage of the work force and that 45 per cent of all teenagers in full-time employment are in a new apprenticeship. New apprenticeships are now available in more than 500 occupations across a diverse range of industries. Growth in new apprenticeships has not been at the expense of traditional trades. An estimated 107,360 new apprentices completed their training in the year to 30 June 2002, an increase of 27 per cent over the corresponding period. I commend the bill to the Senate.

Question agreed to.

Original question, as amended, agreed to.

Bill read a second time.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Chapman)—I remind honourable senators that, under a sessional order agreed to on 20 June 2002, I shall call the minister to move the third reading, unless any senator requires that the bill be considered in the committee of the whole.