Release type: Media Release


Ambassadors back Apprenticeships as a great start in life


Senator the Hon Chris Evans
Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Jobs and Workplace Relations
Leader of the Government in the Senate

High profile Australians including Greater Western Sydney Giants coach Kevin Sheedy AM, chef and restaurateur Neil Perry, horticulturist and TV star Jody Rigby, former Geelong Captain Cameron Ling and former NRL great Andrew Ryan will work with the Gillard Government and industry groups to promote Australian Apprenticeships.

Minister for Skills and Jobs, Senator Chris Evans, said the Apprenticeship Ambassadors would play a key role in promoting the benefits of getting a formal skills qualification.

“Many people may not know that AFL great Kevin Sheedy was once a plumber, that TV landscaping guru Jody Rigby spent four years in a horticultural apprenticeship or that former Canterbury Bulldogs captain Andrew Ryan owns a landscape gardening business as the result of his studies,” Senator Evans said.

“For each of these high profile Australians, getting an apprenticeship was the first step to entering the workforce and forging a successful career.

“I am delighted they are joining the Government in promoting the benefits of getting a skills qualification. It is a great way to start your working life.”

Kevin Sheedy, Jody Rigby and Andrew Ryan today joined Senator Evans to launch the Apprenticeships Ambassadors program at the 370 Degrees Group’s National Electrical and Communications Association (NECA) facility in Brunswick, Melbourne.

Mr Sheedy said getting an apprenticeship provided young people with the chance to develop skills they would carry through their lives.

“Plumbing helped give me and many other AFL footballers a start in life and Australia needs young people to have the opportunity to build their careers through the apprenticeship system,” he said.

“This is particularly so in regions like Greater Western Sydney where the GIANTS want to build a strong connection to the community through programs like this.”

Senator Evans said the Ambassadors would promote the life-changing benefits of completing an Australian Apprenticeship and the Government would implement a series of reforms to transform how training was delivered.

“We want to ensure the system works for apprentices and trainees, and also their employers,” he said.

“The Apprenticeships for the 21st Century review recognised the strengths of the system but also identified areas for reform.

“Together with the states and territories we will build a harmonised, simpler and better targeted national system.”

Over the next two years, the Government will streamline and harmonise laws and regulations for apprenticeships across jurisdictions to ensure trainees who move between states can have their training recognised.

“This will result in a simpler, user-friendly Australian Apprenticeships system that reduces costs for industry and improves completion rates,” Senator Evans said.

“State and Territory Ministers have already agreed to a set of principles to underpin the harmonisation process and are eager to get on with the job of reforming the system.”

The Government began the reform process earlier this year with the introduction of Budget measures designed to boost completion rates and provide flexibility for employers to meet critical skills shortages.

The $100 million Accelerated Australian Apprenticeships package will speed up the supply of skilled workers by advancing apprentices as they gain required competencies while the $101 million Australian Apprenticeships Mentoring package provides apprentices with guidance in choosing the right occupation and ongoing mentoring throughout their training.

“Thanks to the Gillard Government’s investment in skills, we now have a record 458,900 Australians in apprenticeships and traineeships,” Senator Evans said.

“I look forward to working with my state and territory colleagues and industry and employer groups to simplify and streamline our apprenticeship system and put in place a system that works better for businesses and sees more apprentices completing their training.”

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