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Unemployed Australians could be solving skills crisis.

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Media Release

Penny Wong

Shadow Minister for Employment and Labor Senator for South Australia

Corporate Governance and Responsibility Workforce Participation,

Thursday 13 October, 2005


"It is a symbol of the Howard Government's incompetence that unemployment has increased while employers are desperate for skilled workers," Shadow Employment Minister Penny Wong said today.

Today's increase in unemployment comes at a time when the skills crisis is getting worse.

It is particularly concerning that full-time teenage unemployment has increased to 21.3 per cent, while there is a chronic shortage of apprentices in the traditional trades.

"This is the fourth consecutive increase in the rate of teenage unemployment at the same time as industry is crying out for apprentices.

"The Howard Government should be training Australians now.

"The Howard Government's failure to invest in skills is hurting Australian jobseekers and hurting Australian business."

One thing that the Howard Government can do today is pick up Labor’s proposal for a $2,000 Trade Completion Bonus for traditional apprentices to stop people leaving their apprenticeships before their training is completed.

"Completion rates are in decline for traditional apprentices. Under the Howard Government, completion rates have dropped from 71 per cent to 60 per cent for traditional apprentices who were expected to complete from 1999 to 2003.

"Under Labor’s proposal, traditional apprentices would receive a $1,000 payment half way through their training and a further $1,000 payment at the completion of their apprenticeship.

"This scheme would aim to achieve an 80 per cent completion rate that would put over 10,000 more qualified tradespeople in our workplaces each and every year."

For further information: • John Olenich - 0408 841 850