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Labor's Skills Accounts: getting rid of TAFE fees.



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LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION THE HON KIM C BEAZLEY MP

LABOR’S SKILLS ACCOUNTS - GETTING RID OF TAFE FEES

A Beazley Labor Government will introduce Skills Accounts which will remove TAFE fees for traditional apprentices.

Labor will make an initial contribution of $800 per year for up to four years in an apprentice’s Skills Account. This will get rid of up-front TAFE fees for 60,000 traditional apprentices who commence their training each year.

Labor’s new system of Skills Accounts will invest in young people, and help them complete their traditional apprenticeships. Under Labor’s plan, an additional 13,000 qualified tradespeople would enter our workforce every year.

I am determined to build Australia into the future, and build a better future for our kids.

Labor is the only political force in Australia that is developing new policies to tackle the massive skills shortage in this country.

Over 10 long years, the Howard Government has neglected the training of skilled trades workers and, as a result, the economy and the community are starting to suffer. The cost of TAFE is a major reason why young people don’t take up apprenticeships and why many apprentices drop out.

Under Labor’s plan, an apprentice could use the $800 Government deposit into their Skills Account to pay fees for an approved course with TAFE or other accredited registered training providers.

Federal Labor would seek agreements with State and Territory Governments to ensure TAFE tuition fees did not exceed Labor’s $800 Government deposit. Conditions would be placed on contracts with other registered training providers to guarantee these providers do not unreasonably increase their fees.

Individuals and employers would also be encouraged to contribute to the account. Labor will make further announcements about the system for these contributions. Money in the accounts could be then used to further develop and update an apprentice’s skills once they have become a tradesperson.

Labor’s initial contribution to Skills Accounts would cost in the vicinity of $170 million per year when fully operational.

Everyone from the Reserve Bank to the OECD is shouting warnings about our shortage of skilled workers.

Home owners are feeling the impact as the cost of building or renovating the family home increases - you just can’t get a tradesperson any more, and when you do they’re so much more expensive. A lack of skilled workers forces up wages which puts upward pressure on interest rates.

Since 1995 Australia is the only developed country to reduce public investment in universities and TAFE.

The Howard Government has increased skilled migration by 270,000 since 1996, but has turned away 300,000 Australians from TAFE.

Labor’s Skills Account builds upon other practical reforms Labor has proposed over the last year to help tackle Australia’s skills crisis:

• Skills and Schools Blueprint: Skills in Schools including upgrading workshop facilities in schools, a Trade Taster program for years 9 and 10 and a national system of trades, science and technology senior high schools; overhaul the failed New Apprenticeship Scheme; and set up a Training Australia Partnership to get the balance right on skilled migration;

• $2,000 Trade Completion Bonus paid directly to traditional apprentices;

• Trades in Schools Scheme to double the number of school based apprenticeship in areas of skill shortage and provide to schools a 50 per cent skill shortage funding loading per place; and

• Old Masters/New Skills initiative to encourage retired tradespeople to give guidance and advice to new apprentices.

Labor’s priority is clear - train Australians first and train them now.

BRISBANE 30 JANUARY 2006

CONTACT: Colin Campbell 0407 787 181