Kevin speaks in Parliament about the Federal Government investing in education
Mr HOGAN (Page) (16:00): In addressing this MPI (Matter of Public Importance) we cannot look at the last six months in isolation. Certainly we can talk about—and I will talk about—what we have done in the last six months and what we are going to do over the next 2½ years. But I think everyone in this chamber should be a little sobered by the report from the Programme for International Student Assessment, or PISA, which shows that Australian academic standards have been slipping since 2009. They say that the latest results are a serious wake-up call for Australian education, showing a downwards trend since 2009 to late 2012 in Australia’s student performance relative to other countries across mathematics, reading and scientific literacy. Surely if we are going to discuss this, we—and the previous government, with all due respect—need to acknowledge that academic standards slipped for four years of their six-year rule in this country, and they slipped in the three areas that are obviously very important to every student in this country.
Another salient fact that we need to acknowledge—because we cannot look at the last six months in isolation—is that the number of 15- to 19-year-olds commencing apprenticeships or traineeships fell by four per cent between 2011 and 2012. So from 2009 to 2012 we had falling educational standards and falling traineeship and apprenticeship take-up in this country. That is the context that we took over. We took over an education system where we were falling down the ranks. We took over an education system where apprenticeships were being taken up less and less. So let us look at what we are going to do about that. As the assistant minister very eloquently stated earlier on, we are opening 136 trade skill centres, and I have visited some of those that are going to open in my electorate. We have five. The Alstonville High School will be building a million-dollar primary industry centre—an agricultural centre. I went and had a look at that the other day. That is going to be built. We announced that funding recently. There will also be a million-dollar hospitality centre at the Evans River School and centres at Grafton High School, South Grafton High School and Trinity Catholic College.
So we are not abandoning that—we are running out 136 of those centres. But nothing stays still, so if we are going to be training and educating our high school students to join the vocational educational part of the workforce, we have to look at other ways as well. The assistant minister also mentioned that. For a period of time I was a high school teacher, and I was also involved in giving career advice to high school students and saw different methods work in different ways. One way that worked very well—and one we will certainly be encouraging—is school based apprenticeships and traineeships. Certainly there is a space within a high school where you can be taught different vocational education, but there is a big push for-and a lot of room for—students being at high school but also spending a period outside that high school at a school based traineeship or apprenticeship where they get on-the-job training. We certainly will not be abandoning that system; we will be encouraging it. As was previously said, we have established the VET reform task force, because we want to design a system that is flexible and will create results. So we have planned that as well.
We say this a lot, and I almost always get derision from the other side when I mention it, but we are going to cut red tape and all the compliance costs and everything else that those training providers and employers have to do. That is important. We are also talking about higher education as well. We know that the previous government cut $2.8 billion from education, so we have seen falling results in most measures—(Time expired)