Aug 13, 2004

Labor backs AiG’s call for action on skills


MEDIA RELEASE: Anthony Albanese – 13 August 2004

Labor backs today’s call from the Australian Industry Group (AiG) for a “comprehensive and integrated strategy” to address Australia’s growing shortage of skilled workers.

According to AiG over the next 5 years 170,000 people will retiree from the manufacturing sector with few than 40,000 being trained to replace them.

This prediction follows a similar warning from the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) that the availability of suitably qualified employees is now the number one constraint on the private sector’s future investment decisions.

It is absurd that at a time when more than 1 in 5 teenagers are looking for full time work and almost 400,000 jobseekers have been on unemployment benefits for than 12 months, businesses are crying out for skilled workers. This situation highlights a failure of government policy.

Like the Australian Industry Group, Labor appreciates that the low training wage is a major barrier for many Australians wanting to undertake an apprenticeship.

Labor Greater Security, More Opportunities for Mature Age Australians policy will help overcome this disincentive by providing a $2,000 Learning Bonus to mature age jobseekers who take up an apprenticeship or traineeship in areas of skill shortage.

This initiative forms part of Labor’s broader efforts to tackle skill shortages.

Labor $1 billion investment in skilling up early school leavers under the Youth Guarantee and older workers as part of our Greater Security, More Opportunities for Mature Age Australians policy will:

• Abolish all TAFE fees for students wanting to learn a trade while still at high school;

• Fund an additional 20,000 TAFE places nationally;

• Provide a wage and training subsidy worth up to $10,000 to businesses wanting to take on and train early school leavers;

• Create a Training Partnership Fund to help employers re-train their older workers;

• Fund 125 Mature Age Workplace Trainers in key industries to develop and implement workplace training plans.

While Minister Nelson talks about the need for action, Labor has already announced a number of policies that would ensure skill shortages are addressed. Further significant initiatives will be announced before the election.