Thursday, 2 October 2014
Questions without Notice
Thank you, Madam Speaker. I know those opposite hate to see facts announced in this House, but here is a fact for them to file away for Thursday afternoon. We have seen 6,000 young Australians take up trade support loans including more than 1,500 in the home state of the member for McPherson, a great achievement. There should be little surprise, certainly not from this side, in relation to why so many young people are taking up these trade support loans. The reality is that these loans offer young people who enter a certain skill area or apprenticeship up to $20,000 interest-free. Adjusted annually for inflation, it is a $20,000 interest-free loan that does not require repayment until that person is earning in excess of $50,000 a year.
This government's advances in the area of skills and training does not stop there. The Prime Minister and I last month announced the Australian Apprenticeship Support Network, a $200 million investment to lift apprenticeship completion rates. If there is one thing that is urgent, it is lifting the number of apprentices who actually complete their trades. We saw the terrible situation arise under the previous government where 50 per cent of the people who started apprenticeships did not finish them.
We need to have a situation where young people in particular have the best opportunities to get jobs, and to do that they must be skilled to be productive. We are setting up a one-stop shop for employers, particularly for small businesses, looking to hire apprentices suited to their businesses. I am sure that the new Australian Apprenticeship Support Network will get the same level of applause and support from the business community as we have seen for trade support loans in relation to apprentices. The current system that we inherited was clogged by red tape from the previous government. We are out to make sure that we can target job-matching advice about different course opportunities and, of course, mentoring. This is all about encouraging young people not only to take up apprenticeships but also to finish them.