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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 4 Hansard (1 April) . . Page.. 1535..


MR PRATT (continuing):

It is essential that partnerships are forged between government and business. The government must ensure that it is viable and cost effective for business to participate in these schemes. I know that some industries in this town do make sacrifices. I would like to see them perhaps make a few more sacrifices. There is a limit to the extent that which those sacrifices can be made, so the government needs to help business to generate these rather effective programs.

Cost-effectiveness does not relate only to financial incentives. It also means support to the business owner, especially small businesses owners, so that the majority of their time is not spent working out issues relating to the trainee/apprentice when this support could be provided by government. Many small businesses consist of a small number of people. If small businesses could be assisted by government in the day-to-day administration of matters relating to the trainee and the department of education can have a stronger liaison officer link between the government trainee provider and the small business owner, that would be quite positive.

We clearly have a significant shortage of skilled labourers in the construction industries. In many instances construction delays across ACT projects occur because of the shortage of skilled workers. The building industry is not, however, waiting for government to do something to assist in kick-starting some of these linkage programs to address the shortages; they are trying to assist education institutions to move this along. An example of a creative initiative where we do see industries in partnership with an education institution is the partnership between the construction industries and Copland College, which conducts building trades apprenticeship training. Not only that but, in a rather wonderful spirit, industry in this case has agreed to take on in their caseloads a number of youth at risk who are in danger of not finishing school. In addition to liasing with the college and picking up a number of students, they have also been prepared to take a risk.

Ms Gallagher: That is the whole point of the program.

MR PRATT: That is not the whole point of it.

Ms Gallagher: The whole point of the program is to take young people at risk.

MR PRATT: If that is the case that is an example of a very good pioneer project. We should not simply be asking an industry to take on youth at risk, we should also be trying to encourage industry and colleges to take on any budding apprentice, male or female, who wants to follow a trades pathway, perhaps even before going to university. All power to the principal of Copland College, I must say. There is a lot of imagination and dedication there, and a bit of pastoral care too. The government has a little more to do in generating these sorts of opportunities for youth at a loose end and to assist industries desperately looking for skilled labour.

I know the government understands the need because they have in place the right types of programs to address this area and there has certainly been significant growth. I say all power to the minister for moving down that track. The government has taken a number of new initiatives over the last couple of years and I think that is for the betterment of both industry and youth who do not want to go to university. However, for reasons I cannot fathom, the marriage between industry and our teaching and training institutions


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