Sunday, 21 April 2024

    Tradie extinction feared

    The government fell almost $1 billion short of budgeted spending on vocational training programs over the last five years, a gap that has persisted despite the skills crisis facing Australia, The Age reports.

    A total $5.27 billion was budgeted for a series of apprenticeship, skills and training initiatives between 2014-15 and 2018-19 but the government spent only $4.35 billion over the period.

    The $919 million under-spend is revealed in the Department of Education’s annual reports for the last five years, including the newly released report for 2018-19.

    Labor has seized on the figures, saying the government has “shortchanged” and starved the training sector even as Australia faces an ongoing skills shortage.

    “Is it any wonder that under Scott Morrison our TAFEs are in disrepair and apprentice and trainee numbers have fallen off a cliff?” Labor’s education and training spokeswoman Tanya Plibersek said.

    “If the Liberals don’t do something serious to fix the skills crisis they have created, we could be looking at the extinction of the Australian tradie.”

    The under-spending was worth $209 million in 2018-19, $204 million in 2017-18, $117 million in 2016-17, $249 million in 2015-16 and $139 million in 2014-15.

    The programs receiving the funding include apprenticeship incentives, scholarships, migrant English support and trade loans.

    The figures will add to concerns about vocational education and training, which has increasingly been seen as the “poor cousin” of post-school education amid continual declines in TAFE enrolments and apprenticeship numbers.

    Employment and Skills Minister Michaelia Cash dismissed Labor’s criticism, calling their claims a “complete fabrication” and pointing to the government’s efforts to revamp the sector.

    Senator Cash said the gap between the forecast cost and the actual spending was because the initiatives were demand-driven, meaning the cost depended on the number of people using the programs.


    ‘Looking at the extinction of the tradie’: Vocational education ‘shortchanged’ $900 million (The Age)


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