Government must mandate for apprenticeship quotas, not cheap labour

Published: 5 May 2016

Boosting apprenticeships levels through government mandate quotas would help young people into long term and successful careers in the construction industry while addressing the shortfall of skilled workers, according to the CFMEU.

National Construction Secretary Dave Noonan said this would provide proven benefits for workers, employers and the economy instead of the government’s cheap labour scheme that goes nowhere for young people.

“Four dollars an hour doesn’t provide a future for anyone. This is the worse version of the churn of unemployed people and the money would be better spent on providing quality training. 

Every study undertaken on apprenticeships, both in Australia and internationally, shows that apprenticeships result in considerable social and economic benefits. 

“Over the last two years the government has cut funding to skills and training totaling $2.5 billion. One billion dollars has been cut to apprenticeships,” he said. 

“This scheme will do nothing to tackle the 20% drop in apprenticeships in the last twelve 12 months. The government must address the urgent need for a 30% increase to meet the rising demand for homes and infrastructure.

“In fact, it is hindering opportunities for young people by banning apprenticeship quotas through the ABCC legislation. 

“Their solution is to pour taxpayers’ money into an ill-conceived, futile program that will exploit young people,” he said.  

Mr Noonan said the government should be proactive in mandating for apprenticeship quotas and has called on the Master Builders Assocation to join the union in demanding quotas in government procurement policy.

“Government mandated quotas would go a long way in meeting the need for the 300,000 skilled workers we need over the next 10 years and at the same time create much needed skilled jobs for unrepresented demographics in the industry.

“There are plenty of young people, including women, indigenous workers and newly arrived migrants who would embrace learning a trade that provides them with a future in a growing industry. It’s the role of the government to provide that opportunity,” he said.