Page 1450 - Week 05 - Tuesday, 6 May 2008

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Skill shortages are a reality—nationally and internationally. The equation is of the simplest kind. The national capital needs more workers. And it needs more workers adept in specific areas.

In response to the recommendations of the Skills Commission, the Government today announces a suite of measures to tackle skill shortages. These are measures that will help us attract quality workers, increase productivity, heighten participation, and create more opportunities for education and training.

The Budget provides $36.6 million over four years in recurrent funding, and $14.3 million in capital funding for skills, a total of almost $51 million over four years.

This substantial strategic investment will support initiatives ranging from enhanced career guidance in schools, to greater vocational training opportunities, measures to attract skilled workers, and investments in the workers who are already here.

There’s $2.5 million for additional places at CIT and an extra $1 million for the CIT Vocational College.

There’s $1.2 million to strengthen the Skilled and Business Migration Program, link final-year and graduating international students with potential employers and increase traineeships and apprenticeships in the ACT Public Service.

There’s $4.2 million to strengthen our existing health workforce and a boost for the “Live in Canberra” campaign.

We will carry out a feasibility study into a new trades training centre in Fyshwick.

Accelerated apprenticeships in areas of skill shortage are helping to shorten the qualification pipeline for young men and women, as well as those retraining for a new profession.

Now we are looking at alternative methods of trades instruction, including self-paced e-learning options.

A Health System for the Future

Mr Speaker, Canberrans have access to a modern, well equipped and effective public health system and the Government is determined that this high standard of health and health care will continue into the future.

I have already spoken about the $300 million first phase of a massive reconfiguration of our public health facilities.

The 2008-09 Budget makes a major recurrent commitment to public health too, bringing the total allocation to health services to around $889 million. This is almost double the expenditure at the time we came to office.

Building on the 60 additional beds we have created over the past three years, we will open another 20 beds next year, with $16.8 million over four years allocated to

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