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Apprentice and trainee opportunities plummet across Victoria amid Labor skills policy failure

Shadow Minister for Education, Sarah Henderson

Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Shadow Minister for Women, Shadow Minister for Industry, Skills and Training, Shadow Minister for Small and Family Business, Sussan Ley

The number of opportunities for apprentices and trainees across regional Victoria has plummeted on the Albanese Government’s watch.

Latest data reveals Labor’s much-lauded “Fee-Free TAFE” skills policy has failed to maintain the number of apprentices and trainees, with numbers collapsing across the state despite its promise to skill more Australians than the Coalition.

The statistics reveal, in raw terms, the loss of 2,810 positions across nine Victorian electorates in the 2022-2023 financial year.

The number of apprentices and trainees taking up a new trade or learning a new skill appears to be in free fall with significant regional decreases, including:

  • Corangamite:  From 2,170 (2021-22) to 1,855 (2022-23) – 315 lost positions (-14.52 per cent)
  • Corio: From 3,615 (2021-22) to 2,905 (2022-23) – 710 lost positions (-19.64 per cent)
  • Ballarat: From 2,760 (2021-22) to 2,380 (2022-23) – 380 positions lost (-13.77 per cent)
  • Bendigo: From 2,705 (2021-22) to 2,460 (2022-23) – 245 lost positions (-9.06 per cent)
  • Indi: From 4,060 (2021-22) to 3,690 (2022-23) – 370 lost positions (-9.11 per cent)
  • Hawke: From 1680 (2021-22) to 1,540 (2022-23) – 140 lost positions (-8.33 per cent)
  • Gorton: From 1,855 (2021-22) to 1,670 (2022-23) – 185 lost positions (-10.78 per cent)
  • Lalor: From 1,945 (2021-22) to 1,670 (2022-23) – 275 lost positions (-14.14 per cent); and
  • Aston: From 2,250 (2021-22) to 2,060 (2022-23) – 190 lost positions (-8.44 per cent)

Senator for Victoria, Sarah Henderson, said Labor’s failures would hit these communities hard.

“The data is clear, despite all of Labor’s promises to skill Australians their policies are failing and there are now over 50,000 less apprentices and trainees today than when Labor took office,” Senator Henderson said.

“The bottom line here, is we need more apprentices and trainees in our community not less.

“Labor promised it would skill more Australians, but its programs are not delivering – this is a total disaster brought to you by the Australian Labor Party.”

Across Australia, trade apprentices in work hit record highs in the final months of the Coalition Government. As at June 2022, there were 429,000 apprentices and trainees in-training, 25 per cent more than at the same time in 2021.

After just one year of Labor this number has now fallen to 377,645.

It means there are over 50,000 less apprentices and trainees in training today than when Labor took office, a loss of one in 10.

Deputy Leader of the Opposition and Shadow Minister for Skills and Training, Sussan Ley said this was a devastating blow for Labor’s economic credibility and would have serious impacts on Australia’s economy.

“Whether it is Anthony Albanese or Jim Chalmers, Education Minister Jason Clare or Skills Minister Brendan O’Connor, right across Labor’s key leadership group there have been massive drops in the number of apprentices or trainees in their own electorates.” she said.

“This puts Australia’s economy in a weaker position and brings into question our capacity to deliver on national priorities like AUKUS, the infrastructure pipeline and the housing we need to meet Labor’s out of control migration settings.”

The official government data shows that in the final year of the Coalition government in-training numbers increased in every electorate except one, while under the first year of Labor’s skills policies the number of apprentices and trainees dropped in every electorate except four.

It means under the Coalition’s final year of government apprentices and trainees increased across 99.3 per cent of electorates, whereas under Labor’s first year of government numbers dropped across 97.3 per cent of electorates.

Labor came to power promising it would solve skills shortages and deliver more opportunities for Australians to get into training but the reality is they have delivered a collapse in the number of Australians taking up training.

Table One: Numbers of apprentices and trainees in-training have collapsed in every state and territory (NCVER: Apprentices and trainees 2023 June quarter)


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