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Small Business and Skills

9 Nov | '2020

I would also like to thank Minister Andrews for the opportunity to speak about small business and skills today in the Federation Chamber and congratulate her on the great work that she has done on the Modern Manufacturing Strategy for our country. It is to be commended. She knows as well as I do, being a local Gold Coast member, that Gold Coast business leaders need employees with the right skills. The good people of Moncrieff tell me they want the right skills to land the jobs they need. As the Treasurer has made clear, the government knows, through our experience of previous recessions, that it can take a very long time to reduce unemployment. That’s why the government has delivered a budget to build the momentum required to get people back into work quickly.

We’ve already seen a significant boost in confidence due to the budget and the Morrison government’s JobMaker plan to put skills at the centre of our economic recovery. The government is investing close to $7 billion in skills and training to ensure businesses can hire the employees they need and Australians can get back to work with the job that they need. This investment will maintain the current high standards of the Australian vocational education and training sector, whilst making it more responsive to employers’ needs, and more flexible and more attractive to potential students from all walks of life. This is about building a pipeline of qualified people to support our economic recovery. It’s about key measures like the $2.8 billion investment to retain apprentices in training through the pandemic and the $1.2 billion for 100,000 new apprenticeships or traineeships. That’s a lot of jobs—100,000 new positions. The $1 billion JobTrainer fund will skill Australians for our economic recovery. Migrants will learn English thanks to $259 million allocated to assist Australians to learn foundational skills through the Adult Migrant English Program. Areas of skills shortage are being addressed by the $264 million committed to additional employer incentives for apprenticeships in areas of skills shortage.

Moncrieff families are concerned about youth unemployment, and rightly so, and welcome the $50 million investment in VET pathways in areas of high youth unemployment. TAFEs will be better off due to a $50 million investment. A new national careers support service will provide school leavers with help to navigate post-school pathways as the government puts $71 million into improving career advice and promoting VET options. This builds on the work of the National Careers Institute. A new apprenticeships data management system will be created through a $91 million investment so that quality data is harnessed to support employers and their apprentices. A new joint $80 million Infection Control Training Fund will be established with the states and territories, with $40 million from the Morrison government to accelerate the uptake of new national skillsets for infection control. Regulator providers will benefit from $22 million in waivers or refunds from the Australian Skills Quality Authority, known as AQSA. This cashflow relief will help providers to retain their employees, reshape education offerings and support domestic and international students. The VET sector will be further supported with a one-year delay of AQSA’s move to full-cost recovery, a $12.6 million saving to the VET sector. There’s quite a lot on this list. Around 21,000 VET students also benefit from an exemption from loan fees until 30 June 2021 to encourage full fee-paying students to continue their studies despite the pressure of the pandemic. The government is extending $11.9 million to the VET FEE-HELP Student Redress Measures to allow students to continue to have inappropriate debts, incurred through the failed VFH scheme, reaccredited.

Specific measures are being delivered for mature age workers, which is a great relief to many who will benefit from the $17.4 million skills checkpoint investment. The skills checkpoint fills a gap in the services currently available to older Australians. It supports older Australians, and we all have them in our family, to remain in the workforce longer by re-energising existing career paths and identifying opportunities for individuals to upskill or to reskill for other occupational outcomes.

Employers, employees and jobseekers can all have confidence in the delivery of the JobMaker Plan because the government has already delivered significant results. Over the last seven months our government has already supported 96,400 apprentices across 55,100 employers with $637 million in payments. These are staggering numbers. This is staggering support from the Morrison government. The National Skills Commission has been launched and will consolidate— (Time expired)

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