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BCA report proves Education Minister wrong on school retention.

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Media Release Jenny MacklinMP


Deputy Leader of the Opposition

Shadow Minister for Employment, Education, Training & Science Federal Member for Jagajaga

A new report released today by the Business Council of Australia (BCA) report provides new evidence that the Howard Government is failing Australia’s young people and ignoring the growing rate of early school leaving.

The Howard Government must finally acknowledge the enormous social and economic consequences of early school leaving.

Early school leaving is a serious burden for the Australian economy and means a future filled with hardship and suffering for tens of thousands of our young people.

The Cost of Dropping Out: The Economic Impact of Early School Leaving reveals that at least 80,000 young people over the next decade are likely to leave school early and face long-term unemployment.

The report has found that unless action is taken the economic cost of early school leaving will reach a staggering $2 billion a year by 2020.

The report flies in the face of the Howard Government’s ongoing ambivalence about Year 12 retention rates.

Year 12 retention rates have fallen from 77.1% in 1992 to just 73.4% in 2001, while youth unemployment is over 20 per cent. People who leave school early are three times more likely to become unemployed than people who finish year 12.

Yet the Education Minister continues to say that young people should not have to finish year 12 and that he is not concerned about retention levels.

Dr Nelson has offended thousands of parents by saying that not all young people finish year 12 because some are not ‘biologically or emotionally up to it’. According to him, school retention targets should be dropped.

The BCA report shows that Dr Nelson should be doing everything he can to keep young people in school, not actively encouraging them to leave

A future Labor government would strive to have all children either complete Year 12 or undertake vocational training,

Keeping more young people in school or vocational training means massive social and economic benefits including a better educated, more productive workforce, higher tax revenues, less welfare and fewer social problems.

More info: Joanna Brent 03 9459 1411; 0408 473 278 29 January 2003