Jobs a focus, but what did the parties focus on?
Businesses are constantly frustrated by lost opportunities when they have difficulty recruiting appropriately skilled staff. Youth unemployment has also been a pressing issue for Queensland, with the youth unemployment rate remaining stubbornly high across Queensland’s regions.
To address these challenges, Queensland’s education and training system will need to keep pace with economic and technological changes, and provide the right teaching structure and courses to allow for continual upskilling. This will be vital given lifelong learning will apply to both low-skilled and high-skilled employees in a 21st century global economy.
CCIQ believes one of the most effective ways to boost jobs growth is to provide the right suite of incentives to employers to take on an apprentice or trainee. Looking specifically at the Vocational Educational Training (VET) system and particularly at apprenticeship and traineeship numbers, the number of students has been rapidly declining over the past 5 years, at a decline rate of 45 per cent, which is also reflective of the decline seen on a national scale.
So what have the respective parties promised in this election to ensure businesses have access to the kinds of skilled workers needed to power our future economy, and employees are best positioned to enter and stay in the workforce?
Australian Labor Party:
Skilling Queenslanders for Work
• Skilling Queenslanders for Work program will be boosted by an additional $180 million over three years totalling $420 million by 2020-21.
• Work Skills Traineeships funding to community organisations and local councils.
• Get Set for Work funding for community organisations to provide disengaged young people aged 15 to 19 years with nationally recognised training.
• Ready for Work funding for community organisations and school P&C to deliver basic job preparation and employability skills over six to eight weeks to unemployed youth aged 15 to 24 years.
• Youth Skills funding for community organisations to assist 15 to 24-year olds engaged with Youth Justice Services and Queensland Corrective Services with nationally-recognised training.
• Work Start providing a one-off financial incentive of $10,000 to eligible private sector employers (includes group training organisations and non-government organisations) who offer a traineeship or apprenticeship to individuals who have participated in previous government programs.
• A Youth Boost component of $20,000 is available if the former Skilling Queenslanders for Work participant is aged 15 to 24 years.
• First Start providing wage subsidies to local councils and not-for-profit community based organisations to employ additional trainees.
Back to Work
• $155M extension to the program for 2 years in Regional Queensland.
• Implement the Sticking Together Program, where recently employed young people are intensively coached and mentored over a 60-week period.
• Extending the Young Tourism Leaders Program for three more years.
• Assist workers to develop new skills to find secure employment in the manufacturing sector through the Queensland Workers Transition Scheme and Regional Skills Adjustment Strategy.
• Expand placements and increase industry collaboration under the manufacturing and engineering Gateway to Industry Schools Program
• Continue the $200 million Jobs and Regional Growth Fund package to deliver jobs
• $90 million commitment to revitalise TAFE Queensland over three years.
• $85M to redevelop and refurbish Townsville, Cairns, Mount Gravatt, Toowoomba, Redland and Gold Coast TAFE campuses
• $4 million for a new plumbing and fire safety training facility at Beenleigh with capacity for 700 trainees and apprentices
LIBERAL NATIONAL PARTY
Getting Queensland back in business
• $5,000 Queensland Apprenticeship incentive for small businesses
• $500 Tools for Tradies vouchers
• $4,000 Job Start Incentive bonus for businesses that train and retain a young Queenslander for at least 12 months.
• Discounts on Work Cover premiums for small business.
Services, Science and Technology
• $3 million in grants of up to $100,000 to create STEM academies in schools
• $500,000 Best and Brightest Fund to provide assistance to state school students to help compete in interstate and international competitions promoting STEM projects
• $100 million to support 20,000 young Queenslanders into work as part of the Plan to Get Queensland Working for businesses to take on more apprentices and lower their operating costs
• Refocusing the State Assessment Referral Agency (SARA)
Generational Job Match
• Invest $5.25 million to provide greater incentives that address skills shortages on the Queensland Skills Shortage List.
• Partnering with industry to improve training completion rates with a $5 million training co-investment fund.
• Establishing a standing Industry Training Best Practice Council to work with the Commonwealth Government, improve training standards and ensure that course development is in-line with modern industry needs and expectations.
Pledge to invest $1 million to support the new Council, which will:
- Improve training quality and development by ensuring that industry has a seat at the table
- Increase apprenticeship take-up and completion rates through a trial of a common first year training,
- Establish a RPL (recognition of prior learning) industry standard that recognises previous skills for mature-age workers changing careers or upskilling.
• Revitalising Skilling Queenslanders for Work to provide a greater link with upskilling for employment needs
• Ensuring TAFE is focused on modern forms of engagement and course delivery methods.
• Fund apprentice scheme for businesses for essential services, including hotel and catering.
- The Greens have failed to announce any policies with respect to training, education, employment incentives for employees and/or employers.
KATTER’S AUSTRALIAN PARTY
- KAP has failed to announce any policies pertaining to workforce skilling throughout the election period.
In sum, the ALP has both announced and re-announced several successful employment policies throughout the election season. This was an archetypical suite of Labor-style employment programs, but if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. The Liberal National Party has released a sound policy platform aimed at greater apprentice take-up and we are pleased to see small business at the front and centre. Again, all other parties have failed to release enough detail for the Chamber to make a proper assessment of what it means for Queensland businesses.