Posted on 05. May, 2011 in News

Victorian apprentices have been dealt a major blow by the Baillieu Government’s decision to scrap the Apprenticeship Completion Bonus, Shadow Minister for Skills and Higher Education Steve Herbert said today.

Mr Herbert said the move to reduce the bonus before phasing it out altogether would put the jobs of 14,000 apprentices at risk and have major ramifications for skills development in Victoria.

“The Baillieu Government’s first Budget has no plan for jobs, and now at the first opportunity, they have decided to scrap this important incentive for employees to take on apprentices,” Mr Herbert said.

“This short-sighted decision will put at risk the job opportunities of around 14,000 apprentices and trainees who qualify for the bonus each year.

“It’s a blow to employers, it’s a blow to productivity and it will hurt the career opportunities available to young people.

“It is widely known that half of all apprenticeships drop out before completing their first year of training. While the employer completion bonuses may be small, they are important in helping employers encourage apprentices to stick it out and stay the course.

“The Budget shows the completion bonus payments will drop from $22.5 million this year to $8.1 million in 2014-15, before being phased out altogether.

“Currently, the completion bonus supports 14,000 young apprentices to complete their training and continue on to become fully qualified tradespeople. From July 1 this year, no new apprentices will be eligible for this program.

“It is particularly concerning that this important incentive has been scrapped without proper consultation with industry, or any alternative plan to strengthen support for apprentices and secure Victoria’s future skills needs.”

Mr Herbert said the Budget also showed the Baillieu Government was reducing targets for school-based apprentices and targets for 15-24 year olds studying at Adult Community Education organisations under the youth compact.

“This latest blow to apprentices comes at a time when the Government has no commitment to employing apprentices and trainees on Government projects, and when Government infrastructure spending is in decline,” he said.

“It is evident from the Budget that the Baillieu Government has no vision for Victoria and no plan to address Victoria’s skills shortages.”

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