Senate debates

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Questions without Notice

Vocational Education and Training

2:15 pm

Photo of Chris EvansChris Evans (WA, Australian Labor Party, Leader of the Government in the Senate) Share this | Hansard source

I thank Senator Marshall for his question and his interest in these issues. We are rightly proud of the strength of the Australian economy at a time when other countries are doing it tough, with very high unemployment and debt. In comparison, Australia's economy grew by 4.3 per cent through the last year, faster growth than for any other major industrial economy.

We know the challenges this growth throws up include the challenge of providing skilled workers to meet the jobs emerging in the economy. That is why the government has invested so heavily in education and training. Across universities we have increased funding to $14 billion this year, up from $8 billion in 2007. That is a 50 per cent increase, which has seen 150,000 extra students at universities getting the sort of training that will help them fill the professional jobs emerging in the economy. But we are also seeing increasing demand for trades and technical skills. That is why the government is investing a record amount of $15 billion to support training over the next four years and to allow people to have access to the high-skilled, high-paid jobs emerging in the economy.

The reality is that low-skilled jobs are disappearing from the economy. What we need is people who have skills, to support the growth occurring in the economy. In future, the ability of people to earn good incomes will depend on their skills levels. That is why we have invested, as such a priority, in skills training and higher education to make sure that Australia continues to be a high-skilled, high-wage economy. That is where our future is and that is why we have to continually invest in the skills and education of young Australians.


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