Statistics just released confirm everyone’s worst fears about the Liberals’ failure to maintain apprenticeship numbers, resulting now in crucial shortages of qualified tradespeople.
Shadow vocational education minister Sharon Bird said today new figures released by the Department of Education and Training confirm that apprenticeship numbers have crashed by up to 50 per cent in capital cities.
“In western Sydney, apprentice numbers have plummeted by 10,642 (31.1 per cent) and in western Melbourne, by 4782 (35.9 per cent),” she said.
“Across Australia apprentice numbers have fallen by 136,400.”
“Electorates in the western and southern suburbs of Brisbane such as Oxley and Moreton have seen numbers drop significantly as well.
“In Oxley, the number of apprentices fell by a massive 53.6 per cent from 3203 in December 2013 to 1486 in December 2015; and Moreton, 30 per cent with numbers falling from 3350 to 2345.
“Apprentice numbers in capital city seats are also in crisis with numbers in Sydney falling from 5773 to 2905 – a drop of 2,868 (49.7 per cent); Brisbane dropping 2282 apprentices (40.1 per cent); Melbourne numbers declining by 2809 (37.7 per cent); and Adelaide losing 3187 (51.4 per cent) apprentices.( It would be interesting to view apprenticeship numbers are for Ballarat)
“Across Australia apprentice numbers have fallen by 136,400,” Bird said.
“Labor is serious about investing in apprentices.”
The statistics show that in September 2013 when Labor left office, there were 415,000 apprentices in training.
“After just two years of the Liberals’ neglect, by December 2015 this had dropped to just 278,600 apprentices in training,” the shadow minister said.
“The Liberals have not announced one new policy to help address this crash in apprentice numbers.”
The Liberals have cut more than $1b from apprenticeship programs since coming to office, including the abolition of the tools for your trade program, access and mentoring programs and group training support.
“The Liberals say they have established the Australian apprenticeship support network,” Bird said. “What they really did was rebadge Australian apprenticeship centres and cut their funding by $10m per year while adding additional tasks such as job matching and mentoring.
“The Liberals say they introduced trade support loans – in reality only 40,000 loans have been taken up as apprentices are very reluctant to take up debt.
“Labor is serious about investing in apprentices, skills and training.
“A Shorten Labor government will deliver the support for apprentices.”
“Labor understands that to help drive economic growth and prosperity, governments should invest in the education and skills of our people.
“It is vital that we train and retrain our workforce to deliver on the participation, productivity, innovation and growth efforts required for the nation,” she added.
The Labor Party has promised a comprehensive suite of policies to help apprentices, skills and training, including:
Creating new apprenticeship opportunities through setting a quota of apprentices on major federally-funded projects.
Reintroducing the tools for your trade program at $3000 per apprentice to support them from commencement to completion.
Restoring support for group training organisations.
Creating pathways into apprenticeships for 10000 young people unemployed people through the apprentice ready program.
Piloting a national skills recognition entitlement program with 5000 places to help mature-aged, retrenched workers turn their extensive work experience into formal qualifications.
Connecting potential apprentices with jobs and training through an apprenticeships connect search portal.
Appointing a dedicated apprentice advocate.