Apprentice shortages made worse by government’s own rules

Published: 26 May 2020

Skills shortages in trades and the drop in national apprentice numbers are a direct result of rules imposed by the Morrison Government and will be worsened by legislation which will end union funding to apprentice training programs, warns the CFMEU National Construction Division.

“If Scott Morrison is serious about fixing the skills crisis he should start by changing the rules which  force apprentices off government-tendered job sites and abandon proposed new laws that will stop unions funding apprentice training programs,” said Dave Noonan, CFMEU National Construction Secretary.

“This government has ripped billions of dollars out of the TAFE and VET sectors and actively worked against the training of apprentices for years so it is extraordinary to now hear the Prime Minister express shock at the result.”

“Skills training of apprentices has been an ideological battleground for the federal government and its backers in the Australian Industry Group for years and it has led us into the current mess.”

“The federal government’s building code prohibits companies with enterprise agreements that include apprentice ratios from being able to tender for government jobs. Apprentice ratio provisions are entirely legal under industrial laws and are standard across the construction industry, yet they are not allowed on some of the biggest sites in the country due solely to government ideology.”

“The government also has legislation before parliament to stop the industry funding apprentice training programs from interest earned on money held in trust for construction workers’ redundancies. This will end successful schemes which are crucial for bringing new workers into the construction industry and giving them the practical on-the-job training they need.”

“The attack on successful union-funded training makes no sense at a time when completion rates for skills training and the number of apprentices have plummeted under this federal government.”

“The government can reset its approach to skills training, TAFE and support for new workers in the construction by getting rid of rules which stop companies taking on apprentices and ending their hostility to successful union-funded training.”