Apprentice and training numbers drop by nearly half after six years of Liberal mismanagement and $3 billion in cuts

Nicholas McCallum

MEDIA RELEASE: Thursday, 7 March 2019

Minister Michaelia Cash has again been proved inept at planning for Australia’s future with new figures showing the number of people in skills training has nearly halved in the six years of this Federal Liberal Government.

The latest figures from the National Centre for Vocational Education Research show another decline in the number of engaged apprentices and trainees in the third quarter of 2018, down to 267,358.

That’s a drop of 45% since the corresponding quarter in 2012, when there were 485,440 people learning trades and skills across Australia.

The Liberal Government has cut more than $3 billion in TAFE funding over the same period.

Electrical Trades Union National Secretary Allen Hicks said these woeful numbers are a testament to the devastating cuts the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Government has inflicted on the TAFE and training sector these past six years.

“The numbers speak for themselves. This is more mismanagement from the Morrison Liberal Government, driven by an ideology that wants to see our TAFEs run into the ground,” he said.

“The construction and energy sectors are booming across the country and we need to be skilling apprentices so they can pick up the tools and carry it on in the coming decades.

“Unfortunately Australia has this short-sighted Liberal Government that has cut more than $3 billion from our TAFE and forced the number of people in training to drop by nearly half.”

ETU Apprentice Officer Mark Burgess said the Liberals’ cuts and mismanagement is hitting hard, with resources stripped, campuses closed, teachers pushed to breaking-point and apprentice training stalling.

“We’ve seen these cuts are hurting in Tasmania where young people are being turned away and apprentices are being left in limbo, unable to advance or get training because teachers and resources are lacking,” he said.

“Cash’s only attempt at a plan was to do Pauline Hanson’s bidding and throw $60 million at the ‘bush wage’ scheme to have regional businesses employ 1600 young people.

“But the Liberals are rewarding bad bosses who pay apprentices minimum wage by excluding any employer who paid workers under an EBA.”

Mr Hicks said the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Government has shown nothing but contempt for TAFEs and apprentices and Australians deserved better.

“The Liberals have cut billions, wasted resources, dismissed students as ‘basket weavers’ and forced rural apprentices into jobs on minimum wages and bad conditions.

“We need to change the government to one that sees the value in TAFE and investing in young people so they can get the skills and training to build better lives and tomorrow’s Australia.”

Media enquiries: ETU National Communications Coordinator – Nicholas McCallum

0419 499 886, [email protected]

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