It’s a real honour for me to be here with you for your graduation as both the local federal member and the Assistant Minister for Vocational Education and Skills.
Congratulations on having completed your training – and congratulations on choosing vocational education and training as part of your study.
What you learn here will give you real life skills; work skills and experience that will extend far beyond school.
As the Assistant Minister I am committed to ensuring the training you undertake meets industry needs, and you can be confident that the skills you have obtained will position you well for employment.
Some of the qualifications you have been studying here will lead you on a path to careers in construction, horticulture, electro technology and automotive servicing.
Many of these qualifications are in high demand, around Australia and also right here on the Coast.
In the lead up to the 2018 Commonwealth Games, the Gold Coast is undergoing an exciting period of transformation.
Approximately $13 billion in major infrastructure projects, which are recently completed, planned or underway, will change the face of our city .
This means local projects and businesses need people with your skills.
I’d also like to take the opportunity to thank the trainers here at the Gold Coast Trades College.
You have made such a positive contribution to the lives of each and every student here today. Thank you for playing a part in training the future skilled workforce of Australia.
Importance of apprenticeships and traineeships
For the graduating students, as you consider your next steps following school, I encourage all of you to think about an apprenticeship or traineeship.
Our apprentices and trainees are vital contributors to our economy because they fill critical roles that industry needs to thrive. We have some of the best apprentices in the world.
Research shows that around 90 per cent of our apprentices are employed after training. They’re on the path to rewarding jobs and careers with the prospect of one day being able to start their own business.
Despite this, apprenticeship numbers began falling sharply in 2012 and my priority is to reverse the trend.
So our government has decided to put Australian apprentices and trainees first, by creating a new $1.5 billion Skilling Australians Fund.
The Fund will match funding from state and territory governments to support projects that focus on apprenticeships in priority areas, and will seek to arrest the decline in apprenticeships since 2012.
To support apprenticeship completions we have announced the $60 million Industry Specialist Mentoring for Australian Apprentices program.
This program will provide crucial support to Australian Apprentices during the first two years of their training in industries undergoing structural change, and will complement the services of the Australian Apprenticeship Support Network.
This will help apprentices and trainees to complete their training and crucially it will maintain the supply of high skilled workers to industry.
If there is one message I hope you take with you today it is this —
If you are thinking about studying an apprenticeship or traineeship, then the Government is right behind you.
I look forward to working with together with my state and territory colleagues to create additional opportunities for apprenticeships.
Congratulations again on your achievements.