Representatives of employees and trainees will not be guaranteed a role in new vocational training arrangements being introduced by the federal government.
On 21 April, the government announced major changes to vocational training structures which it says are designed to ensure “industry” is put into the driver’s seat in the training system.
But while “industry”, as defined by the Abbott government, clearly includes employers and employer groups, it doesn’t necessarily mean the people who work in a sector or those who represent them.
There is certainly no mention of unions in the government’s blueprint for the training future.
This is despite the fact that it was the union movement, together with the Hawke/Keating Labor governments, which developed the current world-class vocational training system in the first place.
And it has been unions, not employers, who have consistently argued for the importance of creating the highly skilled workforce Australia needs if it is to avoid becoming a low wage, low productivity economy this century.
ACTU President Ged Kearney has called on the Abbott government to guarantee that the proposed new vocational training arrangements provide for genuine representation from all sides of industry, including fair representation of the interests of workers.
ACTU President Ged Kearney said: “The proposed new Industry Reference Committees and the Australian Industry Skills Committee announced today must include genuine representation from all sides of industry, including fair representation of the interests of workers.”