Page 3508 - Week 11 - Wednesday, 21 September 2005

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sales services and 6.2 per cent in low-skilled clerical and sales services. These are areas of low skill where we can bring people into the economy quickly.

As Mr Mulcahy has said, we need to concentrate on skilled migration and business migration, which has been a significant failure of this government over the past four years. I heard the Deputy Chief Minister on the radio the other day bemoaning the fact that he could not get immigration to do particular things that would make things easier. We should make things easier. Instead of bemoaning the fact and standing up here on a regular basis and bucketing the federal government, why don’t you get down and be comprehensively cooperative about the process?

MS MacDONALD (Brindabella) (5.42): This motion addresses some of the biggest challenges facing the ACT at this time: population, skills and possible negative perceptions of Canberra as a place to live, work and do business. The ACT government is committed to overcoming any skills shortages in the ACT; however, it is important to note that skills shortages occur in complex social, economic, demographic and political environments. The term itself is broad, vague and non-specific.

The opposition likes to use this catchphrase often when discussing industrial relations and the ACT economy. This is a diversionary tactic to take attention away from the fact that the ACT enjoys such a low level of unemployment. In the general community, “skills shortage” is a catch-all for a complex set of employment-related challenges that include skills gaps, labour shortages and recruitment difficulties. Mr Quinlan has spoken about some of the achievements of the government in these areas and some of the major initiatives currently under way. I would like to add to this by focusing on three other areas, if I have the time. They are vocational education and training, mature age employment and the image of Canberra.

Turning first to vocational education and training, the training and adult education area of the Department of Education and Training has recently released the July 2005 edition of the Vocational Education and Training Half-Yearly Outlook. This publication includes an indicative list of skills shortage areas that the ACT government will be addressing through the allocation of vocational education and training funding.

The ACT government continues to provide an effective and efficient vocational education and training system, with high participation rates and sound outcomes for students, industry and the community. We have a strong commitment to sustain participation in vocational education and training as a means of providing appropriately qualified and trained citizens to contribute to the economic, social and cultural wellbeing of the ACT. In fact, the ACT vocational education and training system produces better outcomes than most of the rest of Australia. The level of qualifications is higher than the national average and load pass rates for all students and for students in equity groups are higher than the national average.

The National Centre for Vocational Education Research has recently released statistics which show that numbers in training in the ACT remain at record levels—above 6,000 trainees and apprentices. The ACT training system has been brought into a soft landing after the peak of 2003-04, thanks to sustained commitment by the ACT government. The ACT government will ensure this effort is maintained. That peak saw that, in the

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