JOBS FOCUS: TAFE Queensland East Coast electrical teacher Merv King with Ms Fentiman and TAFE student Connor Boon during the minister's visit to Bundaberg in June.
JOBS FOCUS: TAFE Queensland East Coast electrical teacher Merv King with Ms Fentiman and TAFE student Connor Boon during the minister's visit to Bundaberg in June. Chris Burns

Minister details plan to get Bundy youth into full-time work

MINISTER for Employment and Small Business and Minister for Training and Skills Development Shannon Fentiman has outlined the Queensland Government's approach to tackling Bundaberg's youth jobs crisis.

In detailing what steps the government has introduced, Ms Fentiman encouraged Year 12 school leavers who haven't been able to secure a full-time job or higher education to take advantage of the government's free TAFE courses.

The initiative was rolled out last year.

The NewsMail invited comment from the State Government after a report in the paper last week showed an alarming number of 2018's Year 12 school leavers had ended up in part-time work as their main destination.

More than one in four students are working part-time, while 18.1 per cent of our youth remained unemployed.

And while an expert said the part-time shift represented the evolving workplace landscape, Ms Fentiman said the government was focused on promoting areas that enabled career progression.

"We want young Queenslanders to have the opportunity to gain valuable training once they leave school in the industries where we know there will be jobs," she said.

"Since we kicked off our free TAFE for Year 12 graduates campaign in August last year we have seen a large uptake with more than 6800 enrolled across the state including over 600 at CQU TAFE.

"I encourage any 2018 Year 12 graduates still thinking about what to do this year, to consider the exciting careers free TAFE can offer with 160 qualifications on offer in industries such as engineering, electrical, healthcare and much more."

Year 12 graduates must enrol and start training in a high priority qualification within the calendar year after leaving school to take advantage of the free TAFE initiative.

The minister said funding had been allocated to the Bundaberg region also for programs that ensured young locals were fully equipped with the skills required to obtain full-time work.

"Just this week we announced more than $1.3 million under the latest round of Skilling Queenslanders for Work funding in Bundaberg to assist around 170 locals to get job ready skills and training," she said.

"This is a program that is hugely popular in assisting young people with 63 per cent of participants in Central Queensland aged 15-24.

"Under this year's State Budget we have also continued our Back to Work Youth Boost program which supports local businesses with payments of up to $20,000 to take on a young person who was previously unemployed.

"Already more than 1500 young Central Queenslanders ages 15-24 have a job because of this program."

Ms Fentiman said encouraging school leavers to continue studying was the best way to secure full-time work, with a noticeable reduction in youth unemployment.

"The best way we can support young people in full-time work is by ensuring they have qualifications sought after by employers.

"That is why we have over 160 high-priority TAFE courses, including traineeships and apprenticeships on offer for free for high school graduates.

"Overall unemployment rate in Wide Bay has decreased by 2 per cent over the last 12 months with 800 jobs created over that time. Youth unemployment has decreased 9.9 per cent over the same time.

"While there is still more work to do, with the Palaszczuk Government's continued investment in Back to Work, Skilling Queenslanders for Work and our Free TAFE program, we are heading in the right direction."

However, yesterday the LNP's spokesperson for employment and small business Fiona Simpson said the Palaszczuk Government was not doing enough for young jobseekers, condemning the strategies as unsuitable for the needs of regional areas.

"Annastacia Palaszczuk's Brisbane-centric approach to funding training and creating jobs is desperately failing Bundaberg's youth," Ms Simpson said.

"With an almost 40 per cent reduction in Queenslanders completing apprenticeships and traineeships in Queensland, we know Bundaberg is doing it tough in regard to training and jobs.

"The Palaszczuk Labour Government needs to understand Bundaberg is not Brisbane and funding for training and job creation has to reflect regional demands. "Labor's touted Back to Work Program has failed in addressing Bundaberg's youth unemployment crisis.

"With fraudsters attempting to rort millions of dollars from Back to Work, Bundaberg job seekers continue to miss out."

She said businesses were hesitant to put more young workers on. An LNP government would ensure business confidence to support the region's youth.