||Issue No. 241||08 October 2004|
That’s All Folks!
Interview: The Last Bastian
Unions: High and Dry
Security: Liquid Borders
Industrial: No Bully For You
History: Radical Brisbane
International: No Vacancies
Economics: Life After Capitalism
Technology: Cyber Winners
Poetry: Do It Yourself Poetry
Review: Hard Labo(u)r
The Locker Room
Aussie Kids Thrown Overboard
National secretary, Peter Tighe, fears young Australian's are missing out on training opportunities and has called for a Senate Inquiry into the skills crisis - regardless of the federal election outcome.
Tighe points to figures showing that between 1992 and 2001 the number of electrical apprentices in training plummeted almost a quarter, from 21,473 to 16,540.
At the same time the number of foreign workers granted permission to work in Australia has increased by over a third from 26,000 in 1996 to nearly 38,000 in 2002. Over the three years to 2002 the component of skilled trades people in that group doubled to eight percent.
Recent ACTU research has shown in the next decade there will be a national shortage of 250,000 traditional trades apprentices which will cost the economy $9 billion in lost opportunities.
Though 170,000 trades people will leave work in the next five years only 40,000 will enter.
But Tighe claims the Howard Government has failed to ensure enough educational opportunities for young Australians to cover the shortfall - instead the importation of thousands of foreign workers as a short term measure has been fast-tracked.
"The Howard Government has stood by and watched while apprenticeship levels in key areas such as the electrical trades have plummeted," says Tighe.
"It is again trying to create the impression it is doing something about it. The truth is, unlike the falsely accused refugees during the 2001 election, it really is throwing kids - the aspirations and careers of Australian kids - over board, while it secretly loosens or simply ignores many of its own requirements for the entry of foreign workers into Australia."
"Theoretically, before (businesses) can import foreign workers to address a skills need, these companies must provide a training plan to the Immigration Department and commit to a local training strategy."
"However, under the Howard Government this is not being policed in a meaningful way."
University research by Dr Phillip Toner shows the skills crisis has its genesis in privatisation of public utilities in the 1980's.
In the 1970's thousands of electrical tradesmen came out of local and state government workshops every year. State Rail and Sydney City Council would each offer opportunities to 400 youngsters annually.
The private sector keenly snapped up the finished product.
But with the rush to privatise government enterprises in the 1980's came accountants who transformed apprentices from investments into costs.
Many comentators believe the failure of private enterprise to invest in expensive training for younger staff is driving the skills crisis.
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