The Liberal Govermnent’s harsh cuts to apprenticeships will be top of the agenda today when Lisa Chesters welcomes Shadow Minister for Vocational Training, Sharon Bird to Bendigo.
Ms Chesters said apprenticeships had great potential to help tackle Bendigo’s record youth unemployment rate but that the Liberal Government’s cuts of almost $1 billion in the past year was making it very difficult.
“Here in Bendigo we are in the midst of a youth unemployment crisis . Our youth unemployment rate has hit 18.2%. To cut funding for apprentices which have such enormous potential to tackle this problem shows the federal Liberal Government is completely out of touch with the issue,” said Ms Chesters.
Ms Chesters said apprenticeships delivered enormous benefits, not just for those who undertake them and their employers, but for society and the economy more broadly.
“Young people who do an apprenticeship are more likely to stay in work, earn a good wage and therefore contribute more in taxes in the long-term. We have so many willing young people in our electorate who just cannot find suitable work,” said Ms Chesters.
Ms Bird’s visit included a tour and meeting with the management of local, iconic furniture manufacturer Jimmy Possum, where over 10 per cent of the workforce is on an apprenticeship.
“Here we have a medium-sized business that sees value and reward in investing time and resources in a skilled workforce. It is inspiring to meet both the apprentices and those training them and to see first-hand how successful this approach can be. I would love to see more employers follow the lead of Jimmy Possum,” said Ms Chesters.
But Ms Chesters said Jimmy Possum was going against the grain, as the Liberal Government’s cuts made it harder for both businesses and individuals to pursue apprenticeships.
“In just over a year, the Abbott Government has slashed over $1 billion from apprentices – including direct support through Tools for Your Trade, mentoring and accessing programs, joint group training and support for adult apprentices,” Sharon Bird said.
“We need these services to support our young people and employers – particularly small and medium businesses. Group Training Australia have done great work in helping small and medium businesses find and retain apprentices and just this week we saw them overlooked for funding through the Australian Apprentices Support Network.
“The government should be investing in skills and jobs for the future, not making it harder for our young people to find and complete an apprenticeship.”
Federal Liberal Government’s Apprenticeship Cuts so far:
• Tools for Your Trade Program Approx $915 million
• Australian Apprenticeship Access Program Approx $18 million
• Australian Apprenticeship Mentoring Program Approx $32 million
• Accelerated Australian Apprenticeships Program Approx $4 million
• Apprentice to Business Owner Program Approx $11 million
• Adult Australian Apprentices Approx $66 million
• Australian Apprenticeship Support Network $10 million per year
• Joint Group Training $12.5 million*
* $12.5 million Joint Group Training Program cut by 20 per cent this year – the program will be axed completely in 2015-16.