Page 1213 - Week 04 - Wednesday, 9 April 2008

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2,698 program enrolments in apprenticeship or traineeship programs, an 8 per cent increase from 2006. In 2007, the CIT enrolled 106 Australian school-based apprentices, a 23 per cent increase on the previous year.

Through the CIT, the ACT government has led the nation in establishing accelerated apprenticeship programs in chef training, hairdressing and panel beating. These programs, responding to key areas of skills shortage, have cut the time taken to complete apprenticeships by up to 50 per cent, without compromising the quality of training provided.

The shortened apprenticeships demonstrate how the CIT and local industry in the ACT can work together to develop nation-leading solutions that meet the needs of students and of industry. In short, these programs will see more skilled apprentices in the workplace sooner.

Last year I launched the CIT vocational college, which opens new education opportunities and pathways to study and work for people of all ages, offering essential skills and job training for around 3,000 youth, mature aged and migrant students each year. Students are also able to work towards essential skills like the year 10 and year 12 certificates, as well as competency in English, whilst making a start on their work qualifications. The CIT’s articulation arrangements with the University of Canberra are a nationally recognised model of choice.

To address skills shortages of the future, we need to ensure that students in our high schools and colleges can access job training at the same time as completing their schooling. That is why all ACT public colleges are registered training organisations and why the ACT public education system offers Australian school-based apprenticeships.

ASBAs provide valuable experience to students, increasing their industry-specific and employability skills. They also provide students, who might otherwise have left school early, with an incentive to continue their studies and achieve a senior secondary certificate.

To increase participation, entry requirements were amended to enable students over 15 years of age to commence an ASBA in 2007. This is another example of the ACT government doing its bit to address the skills crisis that was left by the former Liberal government.

I recently launched an initiative to facilitate the placement of students on ASBAs to work within our public education system—in schools, colleges and sections of the department of education. We hope to expand this program across all ACT public sector agencies into the future.

Until November of last year the Howard government and those Liberals opposite were unanimous in saying that the only way to address the skills crisis was to slash wages and conditions and the job security of working Canberrans and their families. It is very pleasing to see, therefore, that the new Rudd Labor government takes the approach that the best way to remedy the skills crisis is to invest in skills and to invest in training. That is a view which this government shares.

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