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Monday, 26 November 2018
Page: 11499

Dr GILLESPIE (Lyne) (16:35): I rise to congratulate Kye Beisler from Dungog, who is a retail baking apprentice. He has been chosen to represent Australia in the WorldSkills competition in Kazan, Russia, next year. Apprenticeships and vocational education and training are critical for our economy. We are supporting them. There has been a focus around the nation on getting more people to university, but VET qualifications are just as important to individuals and the economy as are university graduates. In fact, I feel many more young Australians should look at the skills sector rather than going to university because work prospects and income at a young age are actually much better at the moment. That's why we've had so many skilled migrants come to this country—we haven't been growing our own.

But we do have lots of incentive programs. We have commencement and completion incentives for the employers. We have created the Skilling Australians Fund. We have recently announced a trial for a regional and rural wage subsidy scheme for 1,630 new apprenticeships around rural and regional Australia for trades that are on the National Skills Needs List. That will allow employers of certificate III and certificate IV apprenticeships to have 75 per cent wage subsidies for the first year, 50 per cent for the second year and, then, 25 per cent. The take-home message is that the coalition government values skills and vocational education and training, and we want to support more apprentices in Australia.