Page 3593 - Week 10 - Tuesday, 26 August 2008

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The committee received five submissions, heard from two witnesses and visited the Queensland Health and Community Services Workforce Council and the Latham primary school. The latter was to examine the lessons to be learnt from early school-based programs. The committee recommended a demand-led response to skills shortages rather than a supply-driven response. It notes the positive work being undertaken through business and industry working together, through VET in schools and through flexible and innovative vocational education training at the Canberra Institute of Technology.

The committee also found that group training organisations provide security and flexibility for small and micro employers. There are many challenges—for example, the shortage of workplace placements for apprentices and retention difficulties in the community and aged care sectors, in health workers and in allied health workers.

The report recommended the investigation of options for funding a skills foundation project like those undertaken as part of a national skills ecosystem approach, particularly for the aged care and community sectors. The committee also recommends that the ACT government and the construction industry implement an industry-led solution to the shortage of employee placements.

Career choices of our young people obviously have a real impact on our future workforce. The committee recommends a review of the career advisory capacity within our schools and that our schools are able to access programs that enhance student knowledge and awareness of career paths, particularly in relation to traineeships and apprenticeships.

Young people can often be guided from quite an early age by their parents, most significantly, to take a course that leads them off on an academic path. Whilst obtaining academic qualifications as a first choice is often a great outcome for a young person, there are many opportunities for lifelong, well-remunerated careers by following a trades path. That is why the committee sees that the answer to this issue is not just in the hands of government, nor necessarily in the hands of industry or business; it is also in the hands of the community. We all need to address this challenge together.

I want to thank my fellow committee members, Mr Gentleman and Mr Pratt, and my committee secretary, Dr Lilburn, and the committee office for their support and their commitment to this inquiry. I would also like to thank all those who made submissions, those who appeared before the committee and those who made us welcome during our visits. I commend the report to the Assembly.

MR GENTLEMAN (Brindabella) (12.14): I do want to acknowledge, firstly, that the idea for the inquiry came originally from the VIDA board. It is interesting now to note that the inquiry outlasted the board itself, but it is good to see that their work is continuing.

There are a couple of things I would like to note in the report. One very important thing, of course, is on page 64, which talks about the recognition of prior learning.

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