ETU National News

Tony Abbott is Abandoning Young Tradies

Annette Moran - Friday, April 27, 2012
Tony Abbott's call for an expansion of 457 visas is a betrayal of the young Australians who should benefit from the resources boom.

Mr Abbott has called for 457 visas to be expanded, describing them as a "mainstay of our immigration program".

ETU National Assistant Secretary, Allen Hicks said instead of expanding 457 visas, Mr Abbott should be focussed on improving the skills and conditions of apprentices, so that young Australians can benefit from the resources boom.

"Australia is on the cusp of a multi-decade resources sector boom. Now more than ever, we need to invest in young Australians and yet all Tony Abbott can offer is an expansion of 457 visas," Allen said.

"Where is Tony Abbott's commitment to expanding our vocational education or improving our apprentice completion rate?

"Mr Abbott spends a lot of time bouncing around workplaces in hard hats and fluoro vests, but when you scratch the surface, he has no commitment to Australian workers, particularly young people in the skilled trades.

"Simply expanding 457 visas is no solution to Australia's workforce development issues. It shows a complete lack of leadership and imagination."

The ETU is currently running a national campaign to boost the wages and completion rate for electrical apprentices.

Independent research by the University of Sydney has shown that without a lift in the apprentice completion rate, Australia will face serious labour shortages in the skilled trades

"We need to improve the attractiveness of the skilled trades, not degrade our workforce by giving up on skill development and training," Allen said.

"Tony Abbott needs to demonstrate his commitment to workforce development."

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