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Budget 2003: $2.1 billion for skills opportunities for all Australians.

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13 May 2003 MINBUD 33/03

Record funding of $2.1 billion in this year’s Budget will ensure Australia’s vocational education and training system continues to underpin Australia’s strong economic growth. The new Australian National Training Authority (ANTA) Agreement will place high priority on quality outcomes and meeting industry skill shortages.

Since 1996 the Howard Government has reinvigorated vocational education and training - with record numbers in training, record numbers in New Apprenticeships and significant progress towards developing a high quality truly national system.

More than 1.7 million students or about 13% of the working age population take part in vocational education and training each year, with increasing participation by Indigenous Australians (122% since 1995) and people in rural and remote areas (49% since 1995).

The Government’s popular New Apprenticeships scheme will receive $2.8 billion over four years to continue to build on its record high of nearly 375,000 people in training.

Under the Howard Government the New Apprenticeships scheme has seen numbers in training grow from 141,400 in December 1995 to almost 375,000 at the end of last year.

Record numbers of New Apprentices are also completing their training, with higher skill levels than ever before being achieved. The number of New Apprentices achieving a Certificate IV or above increased more than 15 fold in the five years to 31 December 2002.

As a result of a recent tender for New Apprenticeships Support Services, the number of New Apprenticeships Centre outlets will increase from around 300 to around 500. Rural and regional service centre sites will expand from 200 to 333, highlighting the fact more than a third of New Apprentices are employed in regional Australia.

Vocational education and training provides exciting opportunities for the 70% of young

people who do not enter university straight from school. The number of 15-19 year olds in training has grown by 30% since 1998, reflecting the huge success of Vocational Education in Schools programmes which are now available in more than 95% of Australian secondary schools.

Australians of all ages are benefiting from the world class system on offer - 57% are aged 25 or over and 27% are aged 40 or over. In addition, more than 30,000 people chose to come to Australia from overseas in 2000 and pay full fees to study our vocational education and training courses.

Australian National Training Authority Agreement - 2004-2006

Today I have written to State and Territory Training Ministers and offered them an additional $218.7 million between 2004 and 2006 under a new Australian National Training Authority Agreement. This will be in addition to the record $1.1 billion the Commonwealth currently provides to the States and Territories for training places and infrastructure.

In order to receive this funding, I will be asking States and Territories to work with me to give more Australians the opportunity to achieve their potential through quality training and to deliver better outcomes for Australian industry by:

● working harder and more strategically to address identified skill shortages - building

on the important work the Commonwealth has undertaken at a national level, in partnership with industry, under the National Industry Skills Initiative;

● increasing the number of New Apprenticeships in innovation industries and skills

shortage areas, including rural and regional skills shortages;

● working harder to ensure the quality and consistency of training through their

auditing and monitoring responsibilities in respect of training providers;

● improving the implementation of User Choice policy, which allows employers and

New Apprentices to choose their training provider, timing and style of delivery;

● helping young people into employment (and to make successful transitions to work)

by increasing the number of School-Based New Apprenticeships;

● better supporting the Commonwealth’s welfare reform agenda by providing more

opportunities for mature aged people in training, focussing on training for people with a disability and better linking training providers with Job Network providers to assist unemployed people; and

● providing better opportunities for Indigenous Australians and improving Indigenous

training completion rates.

To ensure the vocational education and training system is able to deliver in these areas, I have called on the States and Territories to match the $119 million the Commonwealth will be offering as part of the Welfare Reform Measures announced in previous budgets. This includes $29 million offered to the States and Territories under the Howard Government’s Recognising and Improving the Work Capacity of People with Disabilities package which the Senate has not yet passed.

Through the next ANTA Agreement I will ensure the Commonwealth’s significant financial contribution continues to drive up quality and national consistency and enhance the innovation, flexibility and choice available.

For further information:

Dr Nelson’s Office: Ross Hampton 0419 484 095

Dept of Education, Science & Training: Michele Boyle 0412 677 328