Senator Anthony Chisholm and Hinkler MP Keith Pitt.
Senator Anthony Chisholm and Hinkler MP Keith Pitt.

Concerns for falling apprenticeship numbers

Labor Senator Anthony Chisholm has slammed the federal government over a 27 per cent drop in the number of apprentices in the Hinkler electorate.

"Official data shows there are about 500 fewer Queenslanders engaged in apprenticeships or traineeships in Bundaberg region than when the Federal Coalition took office more than six years ago," Sensator Chisholm said.

"The massive drop in apprentice and trainee numbers in the Hinkler electorate forms part of the 17,385 fewer apprenticeships and traineeships in regional Queensland on the LNP's watch.

"This represents a 31 per cent reduction."

He said the 150,000 fewer apprentices across the nation was due to cuts the Coalition had made to TAFE.

"This Liberal National Government created this crisis by short-changing TAFE, training and apprenticeship programs by almost $1 billion since 2014," Mr Chisholm said.

"This is in addition to the $3b they have already ripped out of TAFEs and training."

Senator Chisholm's comments come as latest unemployment figures show the Wide Bay's jobless rate rose to 7.4 per cent in October.

Senator Chisholm said the apprenticeship cuts were denying people in Bundaberg to get good, secure jobs while simultaneously resulting in businesses struggling to find trained staff.

"In the Wide Bay region Keith Pitt has overseen a jobs crisis with people forced to wait on average 26 weeks to find a job."

Senator Chisholm urged Hinkler MP Keith Pitt to "stop fighting with Llew O'Brien over the Cashless Welfare Card in Maryborough and start delivering for the people of Bundaberg".

But Mr Pitt said the past Labor government also saw downturns in the number of apprentices, when apprentice numbers collapsed by 110,000 or 22 per cent between June 2012 and June 2013.

"It was the Queensland State Labor Government which refused to sign up to the Skilling Australians Fund which would have provided $245 million for up to 50,000 apprentices and trainees in Queensland alone," he said.

"The Coalition Government has committed an additional $60 million in the expansion of the Australian Apprenticeships Wage Subsidy trial, which will give more young Australians the chance to train locally.

"This has been a successful program with 19 apprentices being taken on by local businesses in the Hinkler electorate and another round of successful businesses to be announced soon."