CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY
Thank you for inviting me to speak at your national conference.
As well as outlining the Liberal Government’s ongoing plan to strengthen vocational education across a range of sectors, hairdressing included, I am keen to hear from you.
Following my short speech, I will open the floor to questions about vocational education and I look forward to hearing your experiences.
In 2014, when the data was last collated, there were 8600 people undertaking a Certificate III in Hairdressing across Australia. Of those, approximately one in three government-funded Certificate III in Hairdressing students were undertaking a non-apprenticeship pathway.
Behind most of those 8600 hairdressing apprentices is an employer who has taken a chance on a jobseeker, often a young person, and committed to investing in their training.
Many of you here today know exactly how that feels: the uncertainty of taking on someone new and then the financial commitment involved in training and holding on to competent, qualified staff.
The Australian vocational education and training system works for both students and employers.
Almost four million students are in vocational education and training and on the whole, both students and employers are satisfied with Australia’s training system.
The National Centre for Vocational Education Research indicated that 87 per cent of students surveyed last year were satisfied with the overall quality of training.
It’s similar for employers: 84 per cent were satisfied with nationally recognised training.
I will try and avoid getting too political today, but I must mention that, when last in office, Labor cut $1.2 billion in incentives to employers who took on apprentices.
Despite the Liberal Government introducing a host of new measures to support both apprentices and employers, the effects of these cuts continue to be felt and the number of apprentices in training has declined in response.
We hear from employers that taking on an apprentice can be an expensive and stressful exercise. This is especially true for small businesses, which includes most hairdressers.
To try and reverse the trends, last July, the Liberal Government launched the Australian Apprenticeships Support Network to help employers, particularly small businesses, to recruit, train and retain around 300,000 apprentices across Australia.
This comes on top of the Australian Apprenticeship Incentives Programme, which offers support for employers of eligible apprentices, with payments of up to $4,000 per apprentice.
And in last month’s Budget, Treasurer Scott Morrison announced the Liberal Government’s youth employment package, known as PaTH, where employers who hire an eligible job seeker as an apprentice will receive a wage subsidy of up to $10,000, in addition to existing incentives.
The other important thing the Liberal Government has done, and will continue to do, is support contestability in the training market.
What this means is that employers can choose how their apprentices learn. You don’t need me to tell you that there is no one-size-fits-all to training. For some students and employers, TAFE is a terrific option; for others, industry-supported RTOs are a better choice.
Government’s role is to encourage quality training that is industry focussed and provides value for money. Quality is really the key and the Liberal Government is pleased that the Australian Industry and Skills Committee is playing an important role here.
For apprentices, the Government introduced Trade Support Loans of up to $20,000. These loans can be used to buy work equipment, to cover training costs, to buy a car to get to work or to support living expenses while apprentices complete their studies. To date, more than 40,000 apprentices have taken advantage of a Trade Support Loan.
Apprentices studying a Certificate III in Hairdressing received more than $5.8 million in Trade Support Loans in 2014-15. They have received almost $8 million this financial year to date.
Another key focus of the Liberal Government has been on pre-apprentices.
I have heard that employers struggle to find young people who are ‘job ready’. They want to hire someone who understands the importance of punctuality, someone who has good people skills and someone who is well presented.
I have heard these concerns and have tried to address them through two separate initiatives.
The first is the Apprenticeship Training – alternative delivery pilots which will test and open up alternative training approaches more broadly to provide greater skills development, choice and industry acceptance.
On this programme, I encourage you to submit a proposal. Applications for the pilots are now open and close on 29 July 2016.
The second is the Multi industry school based and pre-apprenticeship support pilot project. This will see up to 2,000 young people get a taste of several careers including hairdressing. Gary Workman will give you more detail on this later today.
The Liberal Government believes employers know what skills they need. This is why we have given employers the lead role to develop VET training packages.
Since April 2015, the Australian Industry and Skills Committee, supported by Industry Reference Committees, is putting the employers’ needs at the heart of the new arrangements.
Sandy Chong, who you all know, is a member of the Wholesale, Retail and Personal Services Industry Reference Committee. This committee is responsible for hairdressing qualifications under the new arrangements. I understand there may be others from the IRC present here today.
These IRC members offer their expertise on the skills and knowledge that hairdressers need. They are the ones who decide what goes into the training package to be considered by the Australian Industry and Skills Committee – not some intermediaries that may have no real connection to the hairdressing industry.
Skills Service Organisations support the IRCs by consulting employers, employees and others to keep track of emerging issues and trends both here and overseas. They will identify the skills and do the technical drafting of training packages among other things.
The Wholesale, Retail and Personal Services Industry Reference Committee is supported by SkillsIQ.
I understand Yasmin King from SkillsIQ will be talking to you later in the conference about the role of the SSO and how SkillsIQ will support your IRC.
Given the influence your IRC will have on the training for your industry, I would encourage you to support them.
No doubt, during this election campaign, you have heard the Liberael Party’s Jobs and Growth slogan.
Nowhere is jobs and growth more important than in the hairdressing sector.
As I mentioned earlier, I know that many of you are, or have been, small business owners.
Australia has more than three million small businesses, including thousands of hairdressing salons. Those small businesses drive our economic growth by providing essential products and services to the community and employing people.
The Turnbull Government is committed to supporting you by:
- Cutting taxes to 27.5 per cent for businesses turning over less than $10 million per year;
- Increasing the unincorporated tax discount from 5 per cent to 8 per cent, capped at $1,00 0 for small businesses with a turnover less than $5 million;
- Extending access to the instant asset write off so that small businesses with a turnover less than $10 million can instantly deduct each and every asset under $20,000;
- Making life easier by simplifying Business Activity Statements.
Our hope is that the money salon owners save on tax will be invested in your business.
We are determined to support hairdressing salons and other small businesses to grow and to create local jobs.
The VET sector is performing well and I look forward to continuing to work with you to get the best results for Australian hairdressing businesses and apprentices.
We will also continue to support employers as they seek to attract, train, employ and retain the best staff.
I’ll close by reinforcing that the Liberal Government will continue to back employer leadership in the training sector. It is the only way to maintain the link between training and real jobs.