Minister Cash calls for a higher profile for trade careers

Federal Employment Minister Michaelia Cash has again called for an overhaul of the image of trades as career pathways at the National Vocational Education and Training Research Conference last week. This follows the release of the latest stats showing that industry was increasingly unable to find skilled workers despite the virtues of trade professions.

Vocational education should not be seen as less important or lucrative than a university degree, and the VET sector must urgently work with business to prevent skill shortages in crucial industries, Minister Cash told the conference.

Department of Jobs and Small Business statistics show that plumbing and bricklaying are in Australia’s top five vocations with a skill shortage, despite the average bricklayer’s weekly total earnings of $2070 last year, compared with plumbers on $1894 and the average Australian adult on $1666.

A law graduate, who will have paid HELP fees and received government funding to spend at least three to five years studying full-time, is entitled to a weekly award wage of $996.

In her first speech to the vocational education and training sector since the election, Senator Cash foreshadowed the government’s reform agenda following a review handed down earlier this year by former New Zealand employment minister Steven Joyce.

The Joyce review found the numbers of trade qualification-seeking students have been steadily decreasing in recent years.

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