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Tuesday, 4 October 1983
Page: 1297

Ms MAYER(9.23) —I wish to address two aspects of the planned programs of the Department of Employment and Industrial Relations which have been allocated $733m in the Budget. The first is the community employment program and the second is the provision for apprenticeship training and support. The two programs mesh together to provide employment experience and skills training for our work force so that the depressing and deskilling effects of long term unemployment are mitigated and a basis of experience and skill is provided from which the recovering economy can benefit. Unless one has personally experienced lengthy periods of unemployment it is almost impossible to understand the full effect of it on the motivation, self-esteem and development of the individual. The Prime Minister (Mr Hawke) and the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Peacock) today pointed out the benefit of energy, enterprise and persistence in reaching success. That is undeniable. But all of that energy, enterprise and persistence was fuelled by money, by huge income which led to huge expenditure and continued employment of those involved. To the person who has been unemployed for months or even years, the energy, enterprise and persistence which led to success are fantacies from some other world, and yet they are qualities which, given some opportunities to show themselves, abound in our nation. I will just take a minute to say: Good on you, Brockie.

The community employment program is planned, through the expenditure of $400m, to give employment to some 70,000 people annually; that is, 70,000 people who would not otherwise have had the opportunity to acquire the motivation and the self-esteem to show energy and enterprise will now be able to do so. The family of the person who has been unemployed suffers as much as the unemployed person does from that unemployment. For those 70,000 people for whom the community employment program will provide some employment, that employment benefit will spin off to their families also. That is a most important thing to realise about that program.

The announcement was made today of the first jobs approved under the CEP. These community projects of lasting worthwhile value will employ 143 people in South Australia for periods ranging from three months to a year, on such things as construction and renovation projects, the redevelopment of the Adelaide Central Mission, museum development and tourist promotion. Some 30 per cent of this creation of jobs is being borne by the sponsors, giving a real community input to the problem of employment generation. This first example of the way in which the Government, local councils and community organisations can work together to use the energy and potential existing in our nation to the benefit of the nation , clearly demonstrates the will that exists on all sides to tackle our most severe problem constructively.

The $300m that will be put into community employment programs and the $100m which is the balance of the wages pause program distributed amongst the State and Territory governments for job creation programs gives some credibility to our election promise that we shall be putting employment as one of our major priorities. Today also the Victorian committee to deal with job project submissions has been announced and work will now go on quickly in Victoria to get employment projects under way.

The second area with which I wish to deal tonight at some greater length encompasses the training and skills program. Under the Fraser Government expenditure on the labour market programs fell by 38 per cent in real terms between 1975 and 1982. That was the practical result of the philosophy that the victim is to blame for his or her own misfortune-a philosophy that this Government rejects utterly. This group of programs, the group of the training and skills programs, addresses the need to improve the skills base in employment which is seriously eroded by massive unemployment. It is not only the job skills that are lost; it is also the teaching skills and training capacity within industry. Recovery would be slow indeed if we were to wait for the appropriate job skills to be available before business could begin or expand.

Total labour force programs expenditure, including skills training and the assistance schemes, will be $333m in 1983-84, a recognition of the existing and future needs of industry that illustrates this Government's commitment to long term solutions rather than short term panaceas. The whole area of apprenticeship training is one in which there has been, certainly in Victoria, substantial investment by the education system. This investment in teacher training, in the equipping of schools and colleges of technical and further education, is a long term investment which can be useful only if the jobs of apprentices are protected and the employers are encouraged to take on apprentices. The increase of nearly $100m in the training allocation to the total of $333m includes increases of up to $12m for the Commonwealth rebate for apprentice full-time training program, which compensates employers for the cost of releasing apprentices to attend their trade courses and which provides certain other benefits to employers and apprentices. The number of apprentices attracting this rebate in 1983-84 is expected to be about 96,000.

The allocation for the special apprentice training program has virtually doubled to $20.5m, the major increases coming from the special assistance program and the special trade training program. The main parts of this program are the training schemes for mature age apprentices, which include three special schemes in connection with the North West Shelf project, another in the Hunter Valley associated with the coal-based power generation project and a third in Queensland in the mining industry. A most important part is the pilot program to provide advanced pre-apprenticeship courses for 1,000 people as a follow-up to the 2,000 people funded for pre-apprenticeship courses. The pre-apprenticeship courses have been allocated $11m.

The Government's initiatives in training and skills programs are the result of an understanding which is clear in the education programs that the nation cannot reel from trough to slippery slide to plateau to trough again, but must have some sense of the future as well as the present. One of the most difficult periods through which the education system has had to go has been that period during the time of the previous Government in which education was seen as totally separate and different from the employment needs of the nation and in which no planning and no future was thought about for those people within the education system. This Government, through the labour force and training programs allocation being up more than 110 per cent to $733m, has involved approvals for 265,000 people compared with 223,000 people in 1982-83, an increase of 19 per cent in those approvals. Trade training has increased by $22. 4m or 23.5 per cent, and more than 100,000 apprentices in total are expected to be assisted. Non-trade skills training has increased by $8.7m or 58.9 per cent to $23.5m with some particular emphasis on assisting retrenched workers.

Funds to improve employment prospects of young people are up by 20 per cent to $93.5m through work experience and training schemes. Of particular interest to me personally is the assistance to increase women's participation in the full range of labour force programs. The Government, through these programs, has done three things: Firstly, it has carried out an election promise to increase employment opportunities; secondly, it has recognised the realities of the necessity for long term initiatives; and, thirdly, it has provided to industry and its employees notice that it has faith in the future and in the enterprise, energy and persistence of the Australian people.