Northern Territory jobseekers, students and workers will have greater opportunities to obtain job skills and access to support than ever before under a new Skilling Australians Fund announced by the Coalition Government.
Assistant Minister for Vocational Education and Skills, Karen Andrews, said the $1.5 billion Skilling Australians Fund and the $60 million Industry Specialist Mentoring for Australian Apprentices scheme were key parts of the Coalition’s plan to significantly boost apprentice numbers throughout Australia.
“The Fund will create an extra 300,000 apprentices over the next four years, reversing the dramatic decline that occurred under the National Partnership Agreement signed off by Labor in 2012,” Minister Andrews said.
“The biggest annual decline in apprentices in Australia occurred in Labor’s last year in office from June 2012 to June 2013 when the number collapsed from around 515,000 to 404,000, or 22 per cent.”
Country Liberals Senator for the Northern Territory, Nigel Scullion, said the Skilling Australians Fund would be prioritised towards apprenticeships and traineeships, pre-apprenticeships and higher level apprenticeships, occupations in high demand or with future growth potential, as well as rural and regional Australia.
“The Skilling Australians Fund will mean that businesses and employers in the Territory will get the skilled workers they need to continue growing and boost our local economy,” Senator Scullion said.
“It will also provide more local people with the opportunity to get the skills they need to put them on the path to a great job and career.
“I encourage the Northern Territory Government to put forward innovative projects to ensure our local community is able to share in the opportunities that this new funding provides.”
Minister Andrews said the fund would be financed by the Government’s recent reforms requiring employers hiring temporary or permanent employer-sponsored foreign workers to pay a fee.
“We understand that overseas skilled migrants may be necessary to fill a short-term need, but the Coalition Government is ensuring that in the long term we can fulfil those skills needs with Australian workers, which is good for Australian business and good for our economy,” Minister Andrews said.
Minister Andrews said the new industry specialised mentoring service continued the Government’s focus on supporting apprentices and trainees, complementing the existing services available under the Australian Apprenticeship Support Network programme.
Senator Scullion said the service would help keep Territory apprentices in training by providing added support in the first two years of training.
“This will improve completion rates and support the supply of skilled workers in industries undergoing structural change,” Senator Scullion said.
“The focus on apprenticeships and traineeships in the budget will boost the number of young Territorians who choose and succeed in this pathway. It will support more members of our community to get the skills they need in industries of the future.”