NSW needs more kids in trades: Minister Ley
New South Wales needs more school students taking up a career in trades and training if the nation is to tackle current skills shortages, Federal Assistant Minister for Education Sussan Ley said today.
Ms Ley, who is a NSW MP and whose portfolio includes vocational education and training in schools (VETiS), is in Penrith today working with a roundtable of NSW experts from industry, training, education and government.
She said just 0.5 per cent of 15-to-19 year olds in NSW were enrolled in school-based apprenticeships – equating to just one-in-every-two-hundred.
This is despite a range of skills shortages in the state, including plasterers, plumbers, bricklayers, electricians, tilers, painters and carpenters.
However, Ms Ley said the problem was not unique to NSW, with the national average just 1.5 per cent.
Ms Ley said the return of a national approach was needed and welcomed the recent agreement from the states and territories to work with the Federal Government to update the national VETiS framework for the first time since 2001.
“It’s no secret we need more tradies in this country. Yet the current national VETiS framework, which is meant to be delivering the next generation of skilled Labor, hasn’t been updated in over a decade,” she said.
“The fact that only 0.5 per cent of 15-to-19 year olds in New South Wales are enrolled in a school-based apprenticeship shows Labor’s deliberate effort to put university on a pedestal over trades has put Australia’s economic success at risk.
“Our kids need the freedom and support at school to choose a career in the trades without feeling like they’re playing on the ‘B team’ for not deciding to go uni.
“Unfortunately Labor was so preoccupied with promises of flashy new buildings they failed to see that the real focus needs to be on the quality of career advice, training and real-life work experience being offered to our kids.”
Today’s NSW roundtable follows the national roundtable Ms Ley hosted in February.
“This is no different to building a house - you have to understand the lay of the land before you can build a solid framework,” she said.
Ms Ley thanked Federal Member for Lindsay Fiona Scott MP for inviting her to host the roundtable in the Penrith region.
She said the core of today’s agenda was focused around the need for stronger links between schools, employers and trainers, with the role of career guidance and how VETiS programs are delivered in schools also to be discussed.
Total number of 15-19 year olds Number of school-based apprenticeships (15-19 year olds) % of total number of 15 – 19 year olds
New South Wales 460,670 2,340 0.5%
National 1,453,459 22,506 1.5%
Source: NCVER 2013, Australian vocational education and training statistics: VET in Schools 2012 data tables