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Monday, 22 September 2014
Page: 10110

Mr TAYLOR (Hume) (13:30): I commend the member for Kingston and the member for Shortland for noting the importance of supporting young people transitioning from school to earning or learning. This is a critically important issue for my electorate and, indeed, it is a critically important issue for Australia. Unfortunately, however, this motion before the House is typical of Labor's approach to problem-solving: they list a series of programs, ignore the outcomes and call for more funding. It is typical of how they approach government: no focus on results.

As a new parliamentarian, it is this lack of focus on results I am determined to highlight and address because government has to be about more than posturing. It has to be about outcomes. It has to be about delivery. Let us take a look at the failures we have seen in the youth unemployment and training area in recent years. Between 2008 and last year we saw an eight per cent reduction in youth employment rates, while the overall employment market increased by eight per cent. We saw participation rates for people under the age of 25 falling from 71 per cent to 66 per cent, having climbed in the previous five years. We are at the point now where we have youth unemployment rates of about 12½ per cent compared to 6 per cent in the overall economy. One in three unemployed people is aged under 25 and we have hotspots of youth unemployment like Burnie and Devonport where youth unemployment rates are over 20 per cent. This is a very serious problem that the previous government completely failed to address.

Let us take a look at apprenticeships and training. In the final quarter of 2013, commencements in apprenticeships were 19.6 per cent lower than for the same quarter in the previous year and completions were 24 per cent lower. These numbers are worrying, but the numbers are even bleaker when we look at trades and technical training. As the AiG employer survey from 2012 shows, technicians and trade workers represent the most significant areas of skills shortage. It is a much larger number than for any other occupational group, with 33.3 per cent of survey respondents noting shortages in this area. Completion rates for Australian apprenticeships are unacceptably low at 55.4 per cent. That means almost 45 per cent of people undertaking apprenticeships never actually complete—45 per cent. What an extraordinary economic cost to Australia! Meanwhile we had the Labor Party claiming that their programs were going to fix this, but of course they did not.

In contrast to Labor, the Abbott government will be and is focusing on outcomes. We have set ourselves a target of creating one million jobs in five years and two million jobs in 10 years. Even the ABC Fact Check—God bless it—agrees that we are on target to achieve that outcome. Our policies to resolve the twin issues of chronic youth employment and chronic skills gaps are and will continue to be completely results driven. We are rolling out a series of services that will help engage young people with work—these include work for the dole, the revised Job Services Australia program and the Green Army Program.

In my electorate, five Green Army projects are in the process of starting up and, as of this month, the call has gone out for 17- to 24-year-olds to form the first round of recruits to the Green Army. This will become the largest ever team of young Australians supporting environmental action across the country. Participants will be able to undertake accredited training, such as work readiness, conservation and land management, heritage conservation, project and human resource management, or heritage trade skills.

Participation is open to a diverse range of young people, including Indigenous Australians, school leavers, gap year students, graduates and job seekers. Under the previous Howard government , we saw a 13 per cent increase in youth employment rates, with a strong focus on the Green C orps. This is the direction that the A bbott government will be taking—results focused and delivering, not just talking.

Another exciting program for young people is the Trade Support Loans s cheme, enabling apprentices to access financial support over the course of their apprenticeship in a manner that is akin to the HELP or HECS scheme for university students. The completion incentive built into the loan stru cture is particularly commendable.

The W ork for the D ole program will be reinvigorated to ensure practical work experience and direct connections in a work-like environment are given top priority . We will be encouraging those aged under 30 to be learning or earning. Our programs will always be focused on outcomes. Few issues can be more important for the future of this country than delivering growth and creating jobs for the young. It is our strong commitment.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mrs Andrews ): The time allotted for this debate has expired. The debate is adjourned and the resumption of the debate will be made an order of the day for the next sitting.

Sitting suspended from 13 : 36 to 16 : 00