Tuesday, 23 February 2021
Questions without Notice
COVID-19: Vocational Education and Training
My question is to the Minister representing the Minister for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business. Will the minister please update the House on how the Morrison government's Australian approach to supporting training and skills development is creating a world-class system that will help build a stronger nation as we chart our way out of the COVID-19 recession?
I thank the member for his question. I know that he has a great interest in skills training, having been an apprentice and a tradie prior to coming into parliament. Like all of us on this side of the House, he's committed to ensuring that our hardworking businesses have the trained workforce that they need. This government is creating a world-class training system. We want to make sure that businesses have the skilled workforce they need not just now but into the future. This year alone, we are investing over $7 billion to keep apprentices in jobs, to help out-of-work Australians to reskill, to promote vocational training and to fill the skills shortages so Australians have the qualifications that they need to do the job.
Our skills investment is clearly a generational change. It's designed to support Australians into secure jobs as we come through this pandemic. Importantly, we're ensuring that our approach is industry focused and that the workers that are coming through the training system have the skills they need to perform the jobs they need to do. That's exactly why we invested $1 billion in the JobTrainer Fund—to make sure that Australians have access to free or low-cost training places in areas of identified skills need.
Since coming to government, we have invested in fixing the mess that Labor left behind when it comes to skills training and vocational education. We have been absolutely committed to repairing the reputational damage that those opposite inflicted on vocational education and training in this country. We removed the dodgy providers that were in the system, and we have spent over $2 billion recrediting the victims of Labor's VET FEE-HELP disaster. We invested in the Skilling Australians Fund to make sure that we were directly supporting training. That is in absolute contrast to what those opposite did in their national partnership agreement: $1.75 billion over five years, but only $600 million went to direct training outcomes. Only about a third of taxpayers' money went to train the workers of the future. Those opposite have seriously undermined vocational education, and we are rebuilding it. (Time expired)