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Opposition Leader's focus on skills and VET welcome – Ai Group comment

"The Federal Opposition Leader's focus in his National Press Club address today on delivering a high quality, adequately funded and seamless tertiary and Vocational Education and Training (VET) system as well as a renewed focus on apprenticeships is most welcome," Ai Group Chief Executive, Innes Willox, said today.

"It is increasingly important that VET is not treated as a second-class sector in comparison to Higher Education. Employers require access to high quality graduates from both the VET, not just the TAFE, and Higher Education sectors. From an industry perspective it makes sense for these two sectors to collaborate to more effectively enable a more highly skilled workforce.

"In recent years funding for the VET sector has been reduced and it is now less than what it was a decade ago.

"During the same period expenditure on Higher Education has increased by 45 per cent. What industry wants from both Government and Opposition is action to ensure both sectors are adequately resourced to supply the economy with the highly skilled workforce that it increasingly needs.

"The decline in participation in apprenticeships and traineeships has worried Ai Group for some time.

"In the past 12 months alone, trade apprentice commencements have dropped 10.5 per cent. This is occurring while employers are consistently reporting skill shortages in trades occupations.

"The call by the Federal Opposition for increased numbers of apprentices on major Commonwealth-supported infrastructure projects and defence contracts is a positive response to address this situation. A strategic and substantial set of reforms is necessary to restore apprenticeship pathways to prominence again," Mr Willox said.

Media enquiries: Tony Melville – 0419 190 347