Address - Global Apprenticeship Network
Hello everyone, welcome to Melbourne and welcome to the Future of Apprenticeships conference.
I’m absolutely delighted to officially open this event.
A conference with contributions from policy makers, industry, unions and educators.
Sharing ideas, delivering programs and partnerships.
And re-igniting apprenticeships in Australia.
A theme in lockstep with my role as Minister for Skills and Training.
Our core business – as a government – is creating opportunities for Australians to prosper.
Apprenticeships are vital to achieving that.
For individuals, opportunities to earn-and-learn.
For employers, opportunities to develop the exact skills and talent they need to prosper.
For the country, opportunities to build the skilled and diverse workforce we need for today and the future.
The present skills gap is one of the biggest economic challenges we’ve faced in decades.
We’ve not wasted a minute since being elected working to turn that around.
Jobs and Skills Australia is up and running.
A brand new, fit-for-purpose body, headed up by Professor Peter Dawkins, to provide independent labour force advice on current and future workforce needs.
We are funding 180,000 fee-free TAFE and VET places this year.
And we’re developing a pipeline of talent for the Clean Energy workforce.
We have also recently opened the New Energy Apprenticeships Program which will encourage more workers to consider a career in this sector.
We have established Jobs and Skills Councils to ensure that industry can adapt and develop qualifications to respond more quickly to fill the skills they need, when they need them.
Of course, getting someone to commence an apprenticeship is only half the battle.
We know that completion rates have been steadily declining over the last decade.
Almost one in every two trade apprentices drop out before completing their course – that’s clearly got to change.
Research tells us low wages and cost-of-living pressures are among the main drivers with the workforce environment also playing a key role.
We’re helping to address the financial pressures faced by apprentices.
We’re also helping employers to meet the costs of retaining apprentices.
A workplace that reflects society is a better workplace.
As such, the government is committed to closing the gender pay gap and has invested in supporting more women to take up traditional trades.
More can always be done.
Events such as the Future of Apprenticeships conference are places to share and learn what that might look like.
And have a great conference.