12 February 2015
Funding certainty needed to protect apprentice skills development
Australia’s largest employer network of apprentices and trainees has called for funding certainty for skills development in order to reverse a worrying decline in the number of apprentices.
In its 2015-16 Budget submission, Group Training Australia (GTA) said that cuts to government funding over recent years had put the jobs of apprentices and trainees under threat.
“It has been a particularly difficult period, with some $2 billion cut from vocational education and training (VET) and this has put real pressure on apprentices, trainees and their employers,” said the Chief Executive of GTA, Jim Barron.
“Funding for VET has run a poor third to schools and universities over a number of years, at a time when we should be investing in the skills for the next generation,” he said.
Group training organisations (GTOs) collectively employed approximately 30,000 apprentices and trainees during 2014.
Nationally, apprentices and trainees in-training totalled 351,000 as at June last year, the lowest figure since 2002.
GTA has also urged the Commonwealth to continue to take a leadership role in the VET sector, given the importance of skills development as a national priority.
“We think that more can be done to help develop a genuine training culture, and to enhance the status of apprenticeships and the trades in general,” Mr Barron said.
“Regrettably, there is still a tendency to regard vocational education and training as the ‘second choice’ behind university education,” he said.
The submission calls for a stand-alone group training fund which would allow GTOs to continue to support micro, small and medium sized businesses engaged in the employment of apprentices and trainees.
The submission supports the federal government’s efforts to reform employment programs by ending ‘training for training’s sake’, which has failed to generate real jobs for the unemployed.
GTA has proposed an investment fund that would support GTOs to conduct pre-vocational and pre-apprenticeship training to assist jobseekers with literacy and numeracy skills by helping prepare them for the world of work.
Given the strong ties that GTOs have with schools through their network of field officers, mentors and counsellors, there is also scope to expand the role of group training in school-based apprenticeships.
By partnering with schools, employers and communities, GTOs are in a unique position to provide students with greater access to vocational learning and pathways through structured work exposure, exploration and applied learning opportunities.
"Over recent years, there have been many expert reviews of the VET sector and significant program and portfolio changes,” Mr Barron said.
“We are in a position where we really should be investing in things that are proven, and that work, so that young people get the chance to start apprenticeships and develop the skills needed in a high-performing economy,” he said.
See GTA’s 2015-16 Budget submission.
Media Contact: Bob Bowden, Foresight Communications 0412 753 298
Group Training Australia is the national peak body representing the network of over 150 Group Training Organisations (GTOs) employing apprentices and trainees throughout Australia.
Patron - His Excellency General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC (Retd)
Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia