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Wednesday, 25 November 1998
Page: 625

Mr ROSS CAMERON —My question is addressed to the Minister for Education, Training and Youth Affairs. Would the minister inform the House of the initiatives this government has introduced in the area of youth traineeships and apprenticeships? As the school year comes to a close, how will those initiatives assist young Australians to make the transition from school to employment?

Dr KEMP (Education, Training and Youth Affairs; Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service) —I thank the member for Parramatta for his question. I acknowledge his great interest in the future of young people in his electorate. The coalition is committed to giving all young Australians the best possible opportunities in life through the education and training system. That is why we put in place our national literacy reforms. It is why we are providing a pathway from work to school. It is why we are maintaining junior wage rates so that young people can compete for the jobs that are available.

As we approach the end of the school year, many thousands of young people will have the opportunity to take advantage of the government's training reforms. The government has put in place a new national training system that provides young people with national, portable, recognised qualifications for jobs. This year, over 200,000 people will be participating in the new apprenticeship system. I should tell young people that new apprenticeships are available now not just in the traditional trades. They are available across the whole range of new industries, such as information technology, communications and multimedia as well as in areas such as sport, recreation and finance. There are now some 60 new apprenticeship centres available throughout Australia. I invite young people to inquire at these centres about what opportunities are available to them in their areas.

This year, the government is also funding some 80 job pathway brokers, who will be assisting some 1,400 schools and the school leavers at those schools to move effectively from school to jobs. This government is committed to the future of young Australians. This government has policies. The other side of the House has a massive, gaping policy vacuum. We are determined that young people will have opportunities.