Sep 2, 2004

Labor will fix Sydney’s skills crisis


MEDIA RELEASE: Anthony Albanese – 2 September 2004

If the Howard Government is re-elected, Sydneysiders will find it even more difficult to find a carpenter to renovate their house, an electrician to fix their washing machine and a mechanic to service their car.

Sydney’s skills crisis highlights a failure of government policy. The Howard Government’s New Apprenticeship scheme is not delivering the skilled workers our community desperately needs.

Only Labor has a plan to deliver more tradespersons. A Latham Labor Government 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 $10,200 to local businesses wanting to take on and train early school leavers.

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

• Provide a $2,000 Learning Bonus to mature age jobseekers who take up an apprenticeship in areas experiencing skill shortages.

According to the Federal Government’s own Australian JobSearch website – an online jobs board – today in Sydney there are 1,716 vacancies for workers skilled in the ‘traditional’ trades, including:

• 209 motor mechanics

• 155 boilermakers and welders

• 136 electricians

• 76 carpenters and jointers

• 71 cabinet makers and furniture finishers

• 63 panel beaters

• 98 bakers

• 77 chefs and wine makers

• 70 hairdressers

If people vote for Howard at the coming election the skills crisis in Sydney is only likely to worsen. Over the next 5 years, 175,000 workers are expected to leave the ‘traditional’ trades with only 70,000 expected to enter.

While the Howard Government talks about the need for action, Labor has already announced policies that would address the current skills crisis. Further significant initiatives will be announced before the election.