I rise to make a contribution on the Auditor-General’s report entitled Apprenticeship and Traineeship Completion. Historically in this state we have always had a genuine commitment to and provided support for apprenticeships and traineeships. Young people especially benefit from vocational education by obtaining qualifications, skills and work experience to reach their full potential and embark on a lifetime of employment.
This report demonstrates to us the hard and cold reality of what is happening with apprenticeships and traineeships under this government. It is clear that this government has turned its back on the community of young people in Victoria.
The audit examined data on apprenticeship and traineeship investment, participation and completion; Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (DEECD) activities to influence completion of apprenticeships and traineeships; and the regulation of apprenticeships and traineeships.
The Auditor-General found that the number of people commencing apprenticeships or traineeships has failed to increase. There has been a failure by this government to improve the amount of qualified people being introduced into the workforce. In assessing the data available the audit found that around 38 per cent of people who commenced an apprenticeship or a traineeship did not complete it. We are informed in no uncertain terms that completion of this training is essential. When they have completed training people are more likely to be employed, to earn a higher salary and to work full time rather than part time.
The report also details that among the most common factors influencing the decision of an apprentice or trainee to quit are the lack of support available to them and low wages. Rather than assisting our young people to complete their training so that they might receive the obvious benefits that follow, this government has scrapped the apprenticeship accommodation allowance, which helped young people who had to travel for their training. This was particularly relevant in my electorate. The government has also scrapped the apprentice trade bonus, which financially supported people at the beginning of their training. Even more alarmingly, the government has made the apprentice/trainee completion bonus available only to those who commenced their training prior to 1 July 2011. This bonus provided a financial incentive for people to finish their training after having potentially spent years scraping by on very low wages.
The audit further found that the data being collected in relation to vocational education is not being used to understand outcomes and influence change.
This exposes the government’s real position on apprenticeships and traineeships in Victoria. Those opposite have not assessed the outcomes of, vested any interest in or given any consideration at all to young people and their skills. They have shunned the importance of having qualified and skilled people in our workforce and the impacts that has on industry and livelihood in our state.
I draw the house’s attention to the very last paragraph of the comments made by the Auditor-General, John Doyle, at the beginning of the report. He says:
- I am encouraged that DEECD has outlined the actions it plans to take to address my recommendations. However, the issues I have identified are significant, and I am not confident that the actions that DEECD proposes to take will make the sustained and significant improvement to apprenticeship and traineeship outcomes that is required.
I think that says it all. There is so much work that needs to be done in this area. What we do not need is the slash-and-burn approach that this government has taken to apprenticeships and traineeships in this state.