Leader of the Labor Party, Anthony Albanese, visited Marrickville’s Danias Timber, this morning, with the intent to discuss the decrease in apprenticeships across Australia.
His arrival was supported by The Danias Timber team, who Albo made a conscious effort to meet and greet.
“Businesses like Danias Timber are doing the right thing. They’re a great example of the success of post-war migration, Greek Australians, who have set up a small business whose family have worked here across generations. They employ local people, and have skilled up many apprentices over the years,” he said.
“We have an apprenticeship that we run here, through the TAFE, but it’s just harder and harder to get apprentices, especially in our industry,” said George Danias, the owner of Danias Timber.
“It’s just not how it used to be.”
Albanese was shown around by the Danias family, who have run their Marrickville warehouse for over 40 years.
“We met today, workers who have been here, one for 37 years, the next bloke, at random, been here for 23 years,” said Albanese.
He was also given a machine demonstration by 18-year-old apprentice, Robbie.
“He comes here every day…learning skills so that he can make a contribution into the future for his family, but also so he can make a contribution to the nation, because we need skilled workers,” he said.
Albo’s visit to the local business of his electorate did not hide his intent to highlight his views on how the Liberal government has influenced a decrease in apprenticeships and manual labour jobs.
“When the current government came into office, there were 1418 apprentices here in Grayndler, in the inner-west of Sydney. Today, that figure is 746,” said Albo, who is also the MP for Grayndler.
“45% less apprentices in just the three terms that this government has occupied the government benches.”
The Opposition Leader noted that Australia-wide, apprentices have dropped by over 150,000.
“This government’s issued 500,000 temporary visas for overseas workers to come in and do jobs that we should be training Australians for,” he said.
Albanese highlighted Labor’s stance on apprenticeships, which included “proper workforce planning.”
“We took the proposal for Skills Australia to the election, making sure we identified what the jobs of the future are, and then training young Australians for them,” he said.
“Also retraining current workers for them as well, as the economy changes and workers are displaced. We can’t afford to discard people. This is a vital issue.”
When Albo was questioned about the changing nature of work that Australian youth are pursuing, moving toward tertiary-qualified jobs rather than manual labour, he responded that “lots of people would take up apprentices if they were offered.”
“There’s a whole lot of people being trained up as lawyers at the moment, who chances are won’t work in the law because of the changing nature that legal work is being conducted,” he said.
“What we need to do is match up what the jobs of the future will be, by giving people the skills to fill those jobs, so we don’t have to import 500,000 temporary workers from overseas.”
“Plumbing, bricklaying, electricians…are all earning good wages. They’re good jobs! They’re secure jobs!” said the Opposition Leader.
“When we talk about aspiration, that’s the aspiration that Australians have. A good job, a good income, to look after themselves and their family.”
“We’re not doing that at the moment, and part of the reason for that, has been the governments slashing of TAFE funding, the government’s approach to vocational education and training. It simply has not been good enough.”