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EXCLUSIVE: ALP prepared to work with industry on skills and training, says Doug Cameron

Friday, 23 March 2018
By Jake Nelson

Labor Senator Doug Cameron (pictured above on the Senate floor), shadow minister for skills and apprenticeships, has told Print21 he would be happy to work with Printing Industries on boosting apprentice numbers and promoting vocational training for print.

In an exclusive interview, Cameron dismissed the deal by the Coalition and One Nation to fund 1000 apprenticeships across the country in exchange for One Nation support for the Government’s tax cuts as ‘nonsense’. According to Cameron, apprenticeships have already declined by 140,000 under the Coalition, and the proposed 1000 does not even represent one percent of those lost. “This has got very little to do with apprentices – this is simply a smokescreen for One Nation to justify a backflip and a capitulation to the Government’s business tax cut,” he said.

Cameron pointed to TAFE, which he said has been ‘run down’, as a vital component in skills training, and said Labor would invest $100 million into a ‘Building TAFE for the Future’ fund to revitalise TAFE campuses in regional and outer metropolitan areas. “Labor will invest $637.6 million in TAFE and vocational education, which reverses the Coalition’s 2017 budget cuts in full, about which Pauline Hanson has never raised a concern,” he said.

Cameron also pledged to guarantee two thirds of Commonwealth public education funding to TAFE, set a target of one in 10 apprentices on all Commonwealth priority projects including major government business enterprise projects, expand pre-apprenticeship programs for young jobseekers, and invest in adult apprenticeships for workers in transition. “That’s a real policy program,” he said.

Andrew Macaulay, CEO PIAA (right) with Doug Cameron.

Cameron said he would be happy to meet with Printing Industries, as he has done several times before, to work together on the ‘mutual obligation’ government and industry have to increase apprentice numbers. “I think there’s been, for some time now, a lack of business investment in the skills area. I think there’s far too much reliance by industry on government funding for skills needs,” he said. “This has to be a partnership between the industry and government to increase skills across the nation.”

Andrew Macaulay, CEO of Printing Industries, said he was glad the Opposition is taking interest in printing industry training, “We’re really happy with the engagement from Labor on this issue, and we’ll continue to engage with them. We’ve written letters and had previous meetings with Senator Cameron, and we’re eager to follow up.”

According to Macaulay, the industry invests substantially into apprenticeships and skills training to be at the forefront of innovation. The Graphic Arts Industry Reference Committee, which reports to the Department of Education, has been conducting a review into the curriculum, and a draft was sent to members ten days ago seeking input before the document is finalised and submitted to the Government for confirmation and funding.

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