Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 9 Hansard (21 August) . . Page.. 2708 ..
MR CORBELL (continuing):
School-based new apprenticeships in years 10, 11 and 12-indeed, starting in year 9-need to be continually reinforced. The government is very welcoming and supportive of those projects. A great project is currently being undertaken at the Ginninderra District High School, whereby the MBA group training scheme is engaging with the school to provide opportunities for young people at that school to undertake traineeships or apprenticeships in the building industry. That is a fantastic way of engaging young people whom otherwise may be at risk of dropping out of school before they even complete high school. It is a very important program.
The government will be looking over the next few months at the effectiveness and capacity of the moneys it spends on VET, will be reviewing the activities of programs such as the schools 500 program, and will be making sure that it is able to target VET moneys effectively to addressing the needs of our community overall, but particularly people facing disadvantage.
MS TUCKER (4.43): Apprentices and trainees are a very important part of our world of work. The structured training that young people gain through such schemes is important. There are numerous values to our community and to young people themselves in having qualified tradespeople, in people gaining accreditation for the vocational competencies they reach and in people celebrating and being proud of the skills they develop.
I am pleased to congratulate these young people on their work and their achievements. But there is a broader context to this discussion. Australia, with the rest of the highly developed world, has an education system which extends from early childhood to university. It is a system that generally privileges academic education and points people towards university. It dovetails with an economic system that rewards business and legal expertise most highly and human services at a diminishing rate.
Against the odds: Young people at work, edited by Bessant and Cook, puts the fragmented, casual, changing workplace of contemporary Australia into an historical setting. It makes the point that young people in the past, as in less sophisticated societies today, grew up in a world where work was integrated more into their lives. Since the Industrial Revolution and since then the information revolution, employment has become a more separate activity. For many young people, this fragmentation and disconnection from the world of work has an alienating consequence and, while the path of academic excellence can provide a path for some students, it will not work for them all. Against the odds also identifies intergenerational unemployment and poverty as an entrenched problem in our society.
Furthermore, the report of the National Education and Employment Forum titled Bridging the gap between the haves and the have nots, which was launched this week, addresses need and disadvantage. Its first recommendation is that all levels of government have to work collaboratively towards higher educational outcomes for young people who are disadvantaged and disenfranchised. It also calls for increased support and a wider array of options for young people, particularly those at risk.
School-to-work transition programs, more flexible learning situations, support for innovative community partnerships, structured post-school training such as traineeships and apprenticeships, accredited workplace training, and free and affordable post-secondary education are all vital ingredients in this mix. Neither this government nor the