Page 3509 - Week 11 - Wednesday, 21 September 2005

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12 months to December 2003, commencements of apprenticeships and traineeships in the ACT increased by more than six times the national rate.

In September 2003 the number of apprentices and trainees in training in the ACT was 34 per cent higher than a year earlier. Over the past three years, numbers in traditional trades in the ACT have increased to meet the growing demand. Some examples include plumbing, which nearly doubled, from 40 to 70 commencements; bricklaying, which increased from 14 to 29—more than double—electrotechnology in refrigeration and air-conditioning, which went from 16 to 24 commencements; electrotechnology for systems electricians, which went from 65 to 81 commencements, and hospitality operations, which went from two to 40 commencements. The graduates of that peak will soon be entering the Canberra market, addressing, at least to an extent, the skills shortage to which Mr Mulcahy has referred.

As far as funding for all this training activity is concerned, this government continues to look at the best way to maintain this momentum. The ACT increased its training budget for 2004-05 by $2 million at the beginning of the year. Meeting the growth and demand for apprenticeships and traineeships required another injection of $3.1 million in the second appropriation. Maintaining these trends also includes regular consultation with industry to ensure that government is in tune with their needs. Every six months the department does a scan of the ACT environment, producing a systemic, logical collection of the latest intelligence on skills shortages from industry itself.

Through this process we ensure that we have a sound information base through which to develop policies to address skills shortages. For example, shortages of bricklayers, plasterers and tilers, exacerbated by high levels nationally of housing activity, are being addressed by substantial financial incentives through the building and construction industry training levy fund. This encourages employers to take on apprentices in these trades. The group training organisations, the Master Builders Association and the construction industry training council are all working to have ACT young people participate in these activities. We hope more employers will take advantage of this opportunity to help meet the present and future skill needs in their industry.

One unexpected outcome of the bushfire tragedy is that the rebuilding activity is providing the real work experience needed by many young people to become tradespeople. Consultations with industry through the ACT Industry Training Advisory Association, or ACTITAA, are in fact broader ranging than simply dealing with skills shortages. They cover such issues as changes to training packages and their impact locally, new training opportunities in the ACT, issues that impede expansion of the delivery of nationally recognised training, industrial and equity issues that may cause barriers for the disadvantaged, and delivery of VET qualifications in schools. These discussions are held twice yearly after receipt of written industry analyses. They contribute to the development of priorities, governing expenditure by the ACT on vocational education and training.

As detailed in the government’s economic white paper, we are committed to ensuring that the government school system is resourced to deliver skills in ICT—an emerging skills shortage area—to all school students. This will have a positive flow-on effect to the trainees and apprentices of tomorrow. In this, the ACT is leading the way nationally by being the first jurisdiction to introduce ICT competencies for year 10 students. Also

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