Thank you, Sherelle, for your kind welcome and for inviting me to speak at this graduation ceremony.
I was honoured to open the French Beauty Academy’s Robina campus back in 2013, and it’s a real pleasure to be with you now to recognise all your hard work and achievements — students and trainers alike.
First, let me say congratulations to each and every one of you who are graduating today.
There’s a reason we all gather formally like this for graduations, make speeches and give out certificates.
It’s to honour the fact that it takes real dedication and determination to complete your training.
And it’s also a chance to formally recognise the moment when you move from learning into practising. It’s a big transition.
So we mark this moment with our formal ceremony today, and I’m sure you’ll mark it later by celebrating with your friends and family.
After those celebrations, you have some big decisions to make about your next steps.
Some of you will now be looking to get a job in the beauty industry, or maybe to continue in the employment you’ve already started.
Others might be planning to do another course and get some more training.
Whatever your path, you can be confident that the skills and knowledge you’ve gained through your training have empowered you to take that next step and succeed.
I am pleased – and I’m sure you will be too – that forecasts show the beauty therapy industry is set to evolve in new and exciting ways.
The industry is adapting and changing so it can give clients what they want in a safe and professional environment.
More and more we see salons offering a range of specialised treatments as new technologies have become more readily available.
Treatments once considered advanced are now more commonplace as specialist equipment – such as that used for IPL laser hair reduction –has become more affordable for salons to purchase.
All of this means beauty therapists need to possess highly-refined technical skill sets, as well as skills in communication, technology and digital literacy, retail selling and business management.
Success in the workplace depends on the training you and your staff receive, and whether that training aligns with the changing needs of your clientele.
If it doesn’t match up, you’ve wasted your time and your money.
That’s why our government has worked hard to ensure that industry is at the centre of our training sector.
You may not know this, because much of this happens ‘behind the scenes’, but the things that you learn in your training, the skills and knowledge that are imparted – these things have been developed by Industry Reference Committees or IRCs.
And just as the beauty industry is undergoing some exciting changes, so are the IRCs.
Up until recently, the IRC which had responsibility for hairdressing and beauty services training was the Wholesale Retail and Personal Services IRC.
But as part of a general review of the structure and membership of our network of IRCs, there were some concerns that this IRC was too broad and covered too many different jobs to be an effective voice.
Those concerns have been heard.
Steps have been taken to split this IRC and form a new one — specifically focused on Personal Services, which will have responsibility for beauty therapy.
Creating a more specialised committee will give the beauty industry a greater opportunity to influence the kind of skills and knowledge students will receive through their training.
Even though you have now completed your training this is still important, as it will help keep the beauty industry strong.
It ensures that as business practices evolve over time there will always be an influx of future graduates, like you, who are properly prepared for the realities of the workplace.
The government has also been making changes on a larger and broader scale, to make sure that people can get skills that our economy really needs.
As you may know, there has been a sharp decline in the number of apprenticeships and traineeships. As Assistant Minister for Vocational Education and Skills, this has been a real concern to me. Apprenticeships and traineeships are vital for our economy. And they are a fantastic way to learn.
Our new Skilling Australians Fund is designed to arrest that decline.
It commits an estimated $1.5 billion from the Commonwealth over four years.
The new ongoing Fund will prioritise apprenticeships and traineeships, with particular focus in areas that are:
• trade apprenticeships
• future growth industries
• rural and regional areas
• targeted cohorts
Over the first four years, with matched funding from state and territory governments, the Fund will support up to 300,000 apprenticeships and traineeships, pre-apprenticeships and higher apprenticeships.
It also introduces a new approach to Commonwealth support for state and territory training systems.
States bid for funding, which will be committed to proposals that align with the target and priorities, and demonstrate industry support and employer engagement.
The Fund will only be paid out where states and territories have met milestones.
These are just some of the changes we’re making to ensure our vocational training sector remains strong, but I am sure you have heard enough from me.
After all, today is your day.
Congratulations again, and I wish you every success as you take the next step in your career.