Trade training funding cuts anger union and opposition
HUNDREDS of thousands of students in Queensland and New South Wales are expected to lose key opportunities to learn a trade while at school after the Federal Government axed $1 billion in funding for Trade Training Centres.
The cuts have frustrated the Australian Education Union and Federal Opposition, which are branding the destruction of the program as a broken promise by the Coalition Government.
The mid-year economic fiscal outlook from Treasurer Joe Hockey on Tuesday showed the cuts would save the government $987 million over six years.
Funding for before and after school care has also been slashed, saving the government an estimated $528 million over the same period.
The training centres were to provide a critical link to industry for high school students in Years 9 to 12 so they could be readily employed school ends.
Since 2008, centres have been built in Coffs Harbour, Grafton, and Kempsey in New South Wales and in almost every major regional town along the Queensland east-coast from the Gold Coast to Bowen.
According to estimates by the Opposition, NSW will lose 277 proposed centres and Queensland will lose 123.
Centres already in place will not be affected by the cuts, nor will the 136 new centres currently being developed nationally.
AEU federal president Angelo Gavrielatos said students in struggling communities and regional areas would feel the brunt of these changes.
"(The centres) are vital right across Australia but are very important in regional centres where we need to ensure future development, future employability of our students and productivity of our regions," he said.
"One would have thought this is the time to invest in skills development for their future and for the future productivity of Australia as a whole."
Opposition education spokeswoman Senator Kim Carr said Prime Minister Tony Abbott has broken vows made before the election there would be no cuts to education.
"Communities across Australia know how valuable Trades Training Centres in Schools are - they keep our kids in schools and give them the skills they need to get a job," Sen Carr said.
"Ripping $1 billion from Trades Training Centres means a generation of students will simply miss out."