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PIAA: Pollies failing to address training disaster

Friday, 03 May 2019
By Wayne Robinson

Training crisis: PIAA demands action from government

PIAA says it has grave concerns following the budget and budget in reply, saying that the federal government and opposition have both failed to address the potentially disastrous training and skills crisis facing the print, packaging and visual communications industry.

The issue has been highlighted with print being excluded from the Additional Identified Skills Shortage (AISS) initiative occupation selection, despite the industry now being the biggest manufacturing sector in the country.

The Government announced they will create up to 80,000 additional apprentices over five years, through new incentive payments of $8,000 to employers and $2,000 for apprentices, through the AISS. Priont though is currently excluded.

In recent letters to the minister and shadow minister, as well as the treasurer and shadow treasurer, Ben Cornel, national standards and accreditation officer at PIAA, called on the federal government and the opposition to make a commitment to review the AISS occupation selection within the first 100 days of forming government.

The PIAA has been unable to secure a meeting with the minister or shadow minister following ongoing talks in relation to this issue. “It seems minister Cash and senator Cameron are both too busy campaigning to be worried about sitting down with a significant manufacturing industry to discuss this important issue,” Cornel said.

Excluding the advanced manufacturing skills in printing from AISS not only affects the sustainability of businesses, now and into the future, it also reinforces the myth that the printing industry is dying, and with each local business that closes down, more print work is sent offshore, said Cornel.

“The perpetuation of this myth has a direct measurable effect on enrolment numbers into the apprenticeship courses offered through TAFE,” he said.

Print, packaging and visual communications, represented by the PIAA, is the largest employer group as a subsector of manufacturing, and as such, it is unacceptable that the PIAA was not consulted in regards to this policy prior to its announcement, said Cornel.

“If there had been consultation, it would have been apparent that the situation at the coalface of the many small, and family owned businesses that make up the bulk of this industry are struggling to find skilled apprentices. The AISS initiative would help them enormously,” he said.

According to the PIAA, the methodology used to select the ten occupations currently on the list is faulty and misleading, as it does not take into account the needs of this crucial industry sector that provides employment to thousands of Australians.

A significant factor in deciding which occupations would be supported by this policy was data collected from the Department of Jobs and Small Business skills shortage research. This was done through a telephone-based survey of employers; however, it is not based on a statistically valid sample and does not enable the compilation of quantitative estimates of skill shortages, the PIAA says.

The Department also says that the ‘results are not intended as a measure of the degree of shortage and are not statistically precise’, yet this is the data the government and opposition are relying on for this policy.

The PIAA will continue lobbying the government and opposition to be granted a meeting with Minister and Shadow Ministers so they can continue to represent the printing industry and make the case for occupations in the printing industry to be included in the AISS.

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