Drum pledges to target high youth unemployment

By Myles Peterson

Trade scholarships were again in focus yesterday following Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s announcement at the weekend that Shepparton would host a new industry training hub under the Federal Coalition.

Incumbent candidate for Nicholls Damian Drum said the region would benefit from the pledge of $58million nationally to create 400 scholarships, each valued at $17500.

The money will cover tuition for a range of Certificate III to Advanced Diploma courses focusing on apprenticeships and trades.

‘‘We’re investing some $58million in youth training hubs right around Australia.

‘‘Of these 10 centres, Shepparton has been chosen to be a host city for these employment hubs specifically aimed at youth,’’ Mr Drum said.

‘‘We’re hoping to breach these employment gaps that exist between the students themselves and the young people looking to get into work in the building industry, in the trades, but also into other forms of industry as well.’’

Shepparton’s relatively high youth unemployment rate, sitting at 17.5per cent for those aged 15 to 24 in the labour force according to data released last month by the Brotherhood of St Laurence, was a continuing cause for concern, Mr Drum said.

‘‘Largely this (funding) has been brought about because we have a large youth unemployment rate,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s not a wake-up call, because we’re all very much aware we have an issue with high youth unemployment.’’

Local builder Frank Moretto said apprentices were the backbone of his business.

‘‘We look to apprentices as the future of our company,’’ he said.

‘‘I’ve followed that method for probably the last 25 years. It’s always worked for me. ‘‘They’re the bottom line of our business, basically,’’ Mr Moretto said.

‘‘I’ve had apprentices I’ve put on 25 years ago still with me today. They’re obviously not an apprentice anymore.’’

The Federal Government’s budget and Opposition budget reply both contained hundreds of millions of dollars in subsidies for trades and apprenticeships.

GOTAFE chief executive Travis Heeney welcomed the attention from the major parties ahead of May’s federal election.

‘‘It’s just evidence that we have a shortage of a skilled workforce,’’ Mr Heeney said.

‘‘I think that is why political parties are getting behind it and are committed to it.’’

The weekend’s ongoing pledge will help address the skills shortage while targeting areas of high youth unemployment, according to the Federal Vocational Training Minister Michaelia Cash.

‘‘Industry training hubs and the Commonwealth scholarship program will provide a pathway for young Australians in regions with persistent youth unemployment, to gain the skills they need for a successful and rewarding career,’’ Ms Cash said.