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Labor Has Unveiled Its Plans To Get More Young People Into Work

Don't have a job? Learn a trade.

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Under a Labor government, young people who have been unemployed for six months or more will be given the option to sign up to a free 20-week TAFE course that Labor hopes will ease their transition into apprenticeships.

The number of apprentices in training is at its lowest level since 2001. Take-up rates fell by almost 20% between September 2014 and September 2015.

Labor hopes to combat this downturn by creating "pre-apprenticeship" skills courses.

The 10,000 "Apprentice Ready" positions will be available through job services providers, so you'll have to be receiving Newstart (the dole) to be eligible.

The 20-week course will be free, run out of local TAFEs, and students will be able to keep claiming Centrelink benefits while they study.

Labor is describing the program as a "pre-apprenticeship". The aim is to bridge the gap for unemployed young people and give them the skills they need to go into an apprenticeship.

During the 20-week course young people will try out a number of different trades on the National Skills Needs List, so they can figure out what trade they'd like to pursue.

If an employer hires someone after completing the "Apprentice Ready" course they'll be given an "incentive payment" of $1000.

Labor was highly critical of the government's PaTH internship program announced in the Budget, which would place unemployed young people in businesses and pay them an additional $200 a fortnight on top of their dole payments.

"We are very sceptical that the government's hastily cobbled propositions are anything other than a thought bubble designed to cover up the fact that they don't have any policies on apprenticeships," Shorten said.

"One of the big challenges with apprenticeships is that wages are very low and sometimes there is a high churn factor. What we know is that apprenticeship ready courses absolutely decrease the churn factor and mean that if you start an apprenticeship and you've had 20 weeks to get ready, you're much more likely to complete your apprenticeship."

But Labor's policy won't give any financial incentive to young people, and leaves them with no guarantee of employment.

Minister for vocational education and skills, Scott Ryan, told BuzzFeed News he thinks Labor is responsible for drop-offs in apprenticeship numbers.

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“Labor gutted Australian apprenticeships, cutting employer incentive payments nine times between 2011 and 2013, a total of $1.2 billion. In contrast, the Coalition has not cut a single incentive payment to employers of apprentices,” Ryan said.

He blames these cuts for the 25% drop in apprentices starting training, which has led to the nationwide apprentice shortage.

As part of the policy Labor has also set a target for Commonwealth funded projects to hire more apprentices.

Mick Tsikas / AAPIMAGE

One in 10 jobs on federally funded infrastructure projects will be filled by Australian apprentices.

Labor says this will create 2600 new apprenticeship places for young people.

Labor also plans to conduct a review of the vocational education and training sector.

Alice Workman is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Canberra.

Contact Alice Workman at

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