Mar 10, 2003

Government’s ‘new apprenticeship’ system failing the economy


MEDIA RELEASE: Anthony Albanese – 10 March 2003

Figures released today by the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) show that under the Government’s New Apprenticeships Scheme the number of people commencing apprenticeships in the traditional trades has fallen to its lowest level since the June quarter of 1998.

The data shows that in the December quarter of 2002 only 6,000 people began apprenticeships in the traditional trades.

This decline in the numbers undertaking traditional apprenticeships can only compound the skills shortages already being experienced across a range of industries.

In its latest National Skill Shortage List, the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations has identified skill shortages across a range of traditional trade occupations including:

• Metal Fitter

• Metal Machinist

• Toolmaker

• Metal Fabricator

• Welder

• Sheetmetal Worker

• Motor Mechanic

• Auto Electrician

• Panel Beater

• Vehicle Painter

• Electrician

• Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Mechanic

• Bricklayer

• Plumber

• Chef

• Cabinetmaker

• Hairdresser

• Furniture Upholsterer

These figures highlight the failure of Government policy. Under this Government the nation’s training dollar is not being targeted towards addressing acute skill shortages in the economy or providing young Australians with the skills that will improve their long-term career prospects.

Australia must raise the skill levels of its workforce if it is to address skill bottlenecks and remain fully competitive in the international economy. This can only be achieved if government works cooperatively with industry to provide the vocational education and training experiences that will both equip individuals and reward employers.

Minister Nelson must ensure scarce training dollars go to the best option not the cheapest.