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Support for apprentices and trainees vital in Federal Budget

 Australia’s group training sector today urged continued Commonwealth support to encourage apprentices and trainees to take up and complete their training in order to ensure the skills and job opportunities for young Australians.

In its Federal Budget submission, Group Training Australia (GTA) said that funding cuts in recent years had already caused hardship for some employers and apprentices, and that any further cutbacks could risk layoffs and unemployment in the ranks of apprentices and trainees.

Group training organisations (GTOs) employ some 30,000 apprentices and trainees across Australia. These apprentices and trainees are, in turn, placed with host businesses for varying periods of time until they have completed their training and been awarded their qualifications.

The Chief Executive Officer of GTA, Jim Barron, said that cuts to programs in recent years together with a softening economic outlook made it a difficult time for young people looking for a skilled trade, as well as for employers trying to hold on to these staff.

“It is not exaggerating to say that some employers are close to breaking point and it won’t take a great deal to see them laying off apprentices and trainees.

“That would have a disastrous flow-on effect because many would find it hard to move into other jobs, and it means a considerable investment in our future skilled workforce has probably been lost,” he said.

Mr Barron said he supports the government’s focus on well-targetted funding that directly links training to jobs.

He said that rather than cutting funds, it would make sense to re-direct funding to proven training programs that were directly linked to employment.

“We have seen in recent years an explosion of funding for some apprentice mentoring and support programs that simply duplicate what GTOs have successfully undertaken for many years.

“It is also prudent to ensure that funding is targeted at programs that link training to jobs—rather than training-for-training’s sake.

“When every dollar counts, it is imperative that funding is not dispersed among scores of untested initiatives but is targetted at developing real skills in high-need areas that will result in jobs that business needs,” he said.

See GTA’s 2014 Federal Budget submission.

Media Contact: Bob Bowden, Foresight Communications, 02 9241 2811, 0412 753 298,    

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