The Andrews, McGowan, Palaszczuk and Weatherill Labor Governments have today called on Malcolm Turnbull to increase funding for a new National Partnership on Skilling Australians and provide a stable funding model for the sector.
The fund, announced in the Turnbull Budget, has left the heavy lifting to the states and territories who have been picking up the slack for years.
At a time of economic stress and a soft labour market, the Federal Government should be investing in the training sector.
Training numbers are declining nationally, something the Commonwealth has acknowledged in the Budget, so we need to make sure this new agreement is a good deal for all states and territories.
For months, the states and territories have been calling for the Commonwealth to negotiate a new national partnership; instead, Malcolm Turnbull has outlined a new deal without any consultation or guaranteed funding.
Victoria’s Minister for Training and Skills Gayle Tierney said it is disappointing the sector is still in limbo with minimal details of how the new fund will work.
“This is a wait and see budget for apprentices and the training sector with the final details of a new national partnership to be agreed to just weeks before the current agreement expires,” Ms Tierney said.
“Victoria stands to lose around $40 million next financial year compared to what we are getting this financial year under the current agreement.”
Western Australia’s Minister for Education and Training Sue Ellery said if the previous National Partnership Agreement had continued WA would have been better off.
“What we want to see is a net increase in training places. This announcement means WA will get approximately $63.6 million less over four years than under the previous agreement.”
Queensland Minister for Training and Skills Yvette D’Ath said the funding in the Federal Budget was not adequate.
“The funding in the Federal Budget relies on foreign workers to come in to fund it. This is a flawed funding model and will not replace all of the funding and programs that have been slashed over the past four years by the Federal Government,” Mrs D’Ath said.
“We need adequate funding for training in Queensland and the Commonwealth has to come to the party. It is not good enough to drop a National Partnership Agreement four weeks before it is due to expire.”
South Australia’s Minister for Higher Education and Skills Susan Close said the Federal Government had let down the VET sector.
“For 12 months, all Ministers have been asking for a genuine and strategic partnership with the Commonwealth about the future of skills development and how we best support economic development.
“This late proposal lacks detail and, importantly, lacks breadth and vision. Apprenticeships and traineeships are undoubtedly important but the VET sector is much more than that.”
Training Ministers are due to meet with the Commonwealth in June, just weeks before the current agreement ends.
Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia and South Australia want Malcolm Turnbull to urgently release more details before this meeting takes place.