Federal Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese has hit out at the government over apprenticeship figures. (AAP Image/Joel Carrett)
Federal Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese has hit out at the government over apprenticeship figures. (AAP Image/Joel Carrett)

Troubling training figures spark debate

CONCERNING apprenticeship figures have sparked political debate as official data shows there are 3411 fewer Queenslanders engaged in apprenticeships or traineeships in and around Rockhampton than this time six years ago, according to National Centre for Vocational Education Research.

The Opposition has their fingers pointed at the Federal Government with Labor leader Anthony Albanese and Tanya Plibersek both making criticism.

The pair were quick to point out that the decline had correlated with when the Coalition assuming office six years ago.

The data showed the federal electorate of Capricornia experienced a decline of 1976 apprenticeships or traineeships since September 2013.

Flynn had seen a decline of 1440 positions in the same time frame.

Statewide, there are 29,417 fewer apprentices.

Mr Albanese said it was the result of a “skills crisis” that had been proliferated by the Federal Government.

“The skills crisis in critical trades is hurting the Queensland economy and denying young Queenslanders a pathway to secure, well-paid jobs,” he said.

Tanya Plibersek. Picture Kym Smith
Tanya Plibersek. Picture Kym Smith

Ms Plibersek said the key to upskilling was to take advantage of Australia’s economic growth.

“To take full advantage of this growth we must train Australians so they have the skills and qualifications to exploit the looming opportunities in manufacturing and construction,” she said.

Queensland ALP Senator Murray Watt echoed the calls. “So many major infrastructure projects in the works, surely now is the time to invest in skilling people up for the jobs these projects create,” he said,

However, Capricornia MP Michelle Landry said the Queensland Labor Government had passed on funds offered for upskilling last year.

“The Australian Government established the Skilling Australians Fund in the 2017-18 Budget. It was $1.5 billion in federal funds to support state and territory governments increase apprenticeships and traineeships,” she said. “State and territory governments had until 30 September, 2018 to sign up, but the Queensland Government didn’t.”

She said Queensland was the only state to do so.

Member for Capricornia Michelle Landry.
Member for Capricornia Michelle Landry.

Ms Landry said the Government would continue to invest in subsidies and incentives to attract apprentices.

Employment and Skills Minister Michaelia Cash accused the Opposition of hypocrisy in the wake of the VET fee help debacle which left many students with pointless debts and worthless qualifications.

“We continue to invest in more subsidies and incentives to attract more apprentices — successful programs which Labor have opposed every step of the way,” she said.

Senator Cash attacked the Opposition’s skills training track record.

“While Bill Shorten was Employment Minister, the number of apprentices and trainees in training collapsed by 22 per cent or 110,000 — the biggest annual decline ever,” she said.