Sharon Bird, Shadow Minister for Vocational Education, yesterday joined Joanne Ryan to visit apprentices at the Werribee Plaza Building site to hear concerns about the Abbott Government’s cuts in support for apprentices, including 3,812 apprentices in the Lalor electorate.

“In their very first Budget, the Abbott Government cut $2 billion from the skills program, including $1 billion from assistance for apprentices,” Sharon Bird said.

Apprenticeship programs axed in the Budget include:

Tools for Your Trade Programme

Australian Apprenticeships Access Programme

Australian Apprenticeships Mentoring Programme

Apprenticeship to Business Owner Programme

Accelerated Australian Apprenticeships Programme

“Youth unemployment is unacceptably high, particularly in Melbourne’s West. Tony Abbott wants young people to ‘earn or learn’ but he is taking away the programs that help our young people to obtain and complete an apprenticeship.

“Local apprentices expressed their deep concern about the Abbott Government’s abolition of the Tools for Your Trade program. Many apprentices we met with were relying on this money in order to purchase tools, books and other equipment to continue their apprenticeship,” Joanne Ryan said.

The apprentices also raised concerns about the State Governments’ TAFE cuts, indicating the cost of TAFE is becoming very expensive for low paid apprentices.

“Cuts to these apprenticeship programs and also other cuts including the abolition of the MyFutures website, the Youth Connections Programme and future Trade Training Centres will have a devastating effect on young people trying to find and keep a job here in Werribee.

“The Abbott Government needs to start providing real assistance to our apprentices instead of axing the programs that help them on their pathway to employment.

“I encourage all apprentices to fill out Shadow Minister Bird’s apprenticeship survey on so we can hear the impact of the Budget cuts first hand” concluded Ms Ryan.

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