Page 1336 - Week 04 - Thursday, 30 March 2017
Another important skills support from the commonwealth government, the HECS-HELP benefit, is also finishing at the end of June in this financial year. So this is an urgent and very important matter, and I thank the minister for bringing it forward today for consideration.
We have a very strong focus on universities in the ACT but we should never overlook vocational education and training and the opportunity it provides for a wide range of trainees to build skills, get qualified and contribute to our growing economy. I am a big supporter of a strong VET sector with a strong public provider presence. Funding the provision of VET through the CIT and other quality private providers is an important element of the ACT government’s commitment to assist in training a highly skilled workforce which supports the ACT economy and ensures equitable access to training for all Canberra residents.
In 2015, 66,214 ACT residents participated in 9,696 VET programs across Australia, with 1,420 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people participating in a VET program. Labor went to the election promising that 70 per cent of all VET funding would go to the CIT, our quality government TAFE provider. The ACT government’s focus has always been on delivering a VET system that supports every Canberran to make a meaningful contribution to their community regardless of their circumstances. Our system trains recently arrived immigrants to speak English, helps local entrepreneurs to improve their business skills and is the primary source of workers for our critical tourism and hospitality industries.
Vocational education and training is a core part of Labor’s vision for maintaining and strengthening an equitable Canberra by training and retraining our workforce to adapt to the skill sets of tomorrow. This government is ensuring that this city does not develop its own group of the “left behind”. We do not have to look far to see the effects of federal government cuts in vocational education and training. We can see entire cities economically depressed, with a hollowed-out industrial base that is increasingly not just unemployed but leaving workplace participation entirely unmet. A lack of retraining has meant that many of these often mature age workers have mismatched skill sets that are appropriate for only certain industries requiring a certain skill set in the past.
Our government is looking to the future and therefore making sure our workforce is never vulnerable and is adapting to changing technologies. Labor recognises that we are in an ever-evolving world and retraining and training should never stop throughout a person’s life. Funding the provision of VET through CIT and other quality private providers is an important element of the ACT government’s commitment to assist training a highly skilled workforce which supports the ACT economy.
Adequate VET funding is a core part of Labor’s commitment to advancing the opportunities of the most disadvantaged in our community. The depth of support services available to students in the ACT VET system is extensive, particularly those for students experiencing disadvantage or disengagement. CIT is accomplishing its role as the public provider in supporting students who traditionally experience barriers to further skills development.