Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 9 Hansard (21 August) . . Page.. 2704 ..
MS MacDONALD (continuing):
the actual recipients of awards, they are all winners in that they are achieving skills from undertaking their training.
MR PRATT (4.25): Mr Deputy Speaker, I welcome Ms MacDonald's matter of public importance about the ACT training excellence awards celebrations, an event that I will be attending. Indeed, I am also looking forward very much to congratulating our apprentice and trainee award winners. I am glad to have been given the opportunity this afternoon to get up and speak about apprenticeship and training activities and VET in general.
Firstly, I congratulate the ACT Department of Education and Community Services on establishing and running these training awards. As far as I am concerned, this is a most important community activity because it is one that encourages and focuses on the ACT's most important asset-its youth, our future. In terms of the learning and educational process, the encouragement of youth from infancy onwards to strive to learn and feel proud of themselves and then, as they mature, to strive for excellence is a very important and fundamental practice that our community must always pursue, particularly in the teenage and young adult years. As parents of teenagers know, the encouragement versus stick approach is vital in helping our youth to achieve and attain their best.
I have spoken often of the importance of apprenticeship training and, more generally, of the importance of vocational education and training. I have stated often, I remind members, that VET and apprenticeship training have been and will continue to be a cornerstone of the opposition's developing education policy, the shadow policy. It was the previous Liberal government which broke the nexus created by previous Labor governments that saw the running down of VET and apprenticeship training in favour of a ridiculous and unrealistic education policy dictating that all students must aim for universities, regardless of their vocational capabilities and regardless of their aptitudes and/or their suitability for other important career pathways.
We see as a task of great urgency the rebuilding in our secondary school system of a substantive VET stream to capture and encourage those students suitable for trades, apprenticeships and other important non-tertiary training schemes. We believe that for too long potentially very capable young people hitherto forced through year 12 with university as their objective have been disenfranchised. That was something that occurred under our government as well as previous governments which were in power in the last decade.
Some of our youth have been denied the opportunity of doing what they are good at. They have been denied the making of a living when they were ready to start making a living and, indeed, they were ready and willing to make their contribution to society, be it going on to year 12 to get their year 12 certificate and then move into the workforce or perhaps going beyond year 10 and into the CIT stream with a view to moving into society in a technical trade capability role.
There is another important aspect to this earlier identification of youths who are suitable and in their own hearts most willing to venture down the VET apprenticeship track. I believe that a great many of the disruptive children and children with a learning difficulty in our schools have been children who have felt, as I was saying earlier, disenfranchised and neglected, at least neglected in terms of their educational and