Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 9 Hansard (21 August) . . Page.. 2709 ..
MS TUCKER (continuing):
Commonwealth is delivering particularly well on these fronts. Most particularly, they are failing to provide enough support and opportunities for those young people on the margins of work and school.
A recent submission by ACTCOSS to the ACT government's economic white paper provides a pertinent analysis of the ACT employment market. ACTCOSS argues that people with good employment skills are likely to leave Canberra for employment, leaving a pool of long-term unemployed trapped outside the world of work. ACTCOSS concludes that many people are unable to capitalise on expansion in the high-tech job market that ACT governments have been supporting and promoting.
These people need skills enhancement and direct employment assistance. ACTCOSS argues that, in short, there is a role for government in creating and maintaining jobs that facilitate access to the workforce by people who are disadvantaged. In that context, while we rightly congratulate the trainees and apprentices who will be celebrating at the training excellence awards tonight, we must look for a wider range of activities to provide a way into the world of work to many more young people.
Ms MacDonald mentioned that the ACT government has a good record on unemployment. But, as I know that Labor said in opposition, you have to be very wary of using those statistics in too broad a fashion, because we know from looking at the employment figures and the nature of employment that a high percentage of the employment is casual and part-time work. In fact, the increase in welfare payments that is a characteristic of Australia at the moment is a result as much as anything of the number of people who are accessing welfare because they are in part-time or casual work.
That is creating a situation where sometimes we have several generations of families which are actually living in poverty and unemployed. They have enough money to cope, thanks to welfare and safety net payments, but the really important social issue to recognise here is that unlike previous generations where we had different levels of socioeconomic status in our society-whether you call them classes or socioeconomic groups is academic-the so-called lower class or lower socioeconomic group now is characterised by the fact that it is not working as well as being on a low income.
The fact that a whole group of people in our society are not working has very complex social impacts in our society and that really does have to be acknowledged in any of these discussions. For that reason, the Greens certainly are very supportive of the raising of these sorts of issues and looking at how we can integrate people back into the world of work in a way that is meaningful.
MS DUNDAS (4.49): For 65 years the ACT training excellence awards have been given to outstanding local people starting out in their careers and to dedicated people who support apprentices and trainees in the workplace and the education system. Universities often hog the media limelight, but the vocational training institutions are delivering most of the tertiary education in the ACT and across Australia.
In any given year the Canberra Institute of Technology delivers new apprenticeships to around 5,000 people and more than twice as many take up other studies at the CIT that are relevant to their career paths. We have all been required to embrace the concept of