Apr 6, 2004

Investment needed to address skill shortages


MEDIA RELEASE: Anthony Albanese – 6 April 2004

Today’s announcement on Australia’s skills shortages is yet another meaningless stunt from the Education Minister, Dr Brendan Nelson, and provides no new funding for addressing Australia’s growing skills shortages.

The announcement does not contain one single new dollar and it will not create one new apprenticeship or desperately-needed TAFE place.

The Minister Nelson is not injecting any new funding into tackling Australia’s skills shortages. Instead he has announced a grab bag of toothless communication measures.

Australia’s growing skills shortage needs urgent Government action – not just pilot projects, a new website, more taskforces and further reviews.

Australia has a severe skill shortage in key trades and industries. We desperately need more skilled labour in areas of engineering, electricians, refrigeration mechanics, bricklayers, plumbers, carpenters, hairdressers, furniture upholstery and metal fitting and fabrication.

Yet most of the growth in the New Apprenticeship scheme has occurred in industries where there are no skill shortages such as retail, fast food and private security and up to 15,000 young Australians are turned away from TAFE every year because the Howard Government will not fund enough places.

If Minister Nelson wants to make a dent in Australia’s growing skills shortages addressing he could start by supporting Labor’s policy to create 20,000 new TAFE places each year.

Investment in education and training will help reduce Australia’s skills shortages – not more costly and lengthy reviews.

Given that over the next five years, 175,000 people will leave the traditional trades in Australia and only 70,000 are expected to enter, the time for action is now long overdue.