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Rudd: equality as skills training? « Previous | |Next »
May 11, 2007

One of the effects of the global market flows is increased inequality. This is most obvious in the most globalised industry of all---the flows of finance capital. How then do you increase equality in 21st century Australia within a neo-liberal mode of governance that celebrates private equity capital as entrepreneurial heroes? Poverty today is not just caused by inadequate income and income support--poor education, poor health, gambling, substance abuse and a breakdown in social relationships also lead to poverty.

Getting a job is all that is necessary for fairness is the consistent Howard/Costello line. No matter that it was low skilled or part time--that was a matter of choice by the worker who was looking for flexibility. AWA's ensured flexibility by reducing working conditions and wages for the low skilled, but ensured $150,000 a year for a trades person in the mining industry in WA. However, slowing down any growth in the minimum wage, without major changes to the tax and welfare systems, will only reduce the incentive to move from welfare to work by reducing the rewards from working.

The ALP answer is to boost the incomes of the low skilled workers through greater school retention rates and vocational training so that they have more marketable skills. Can you design an education system that improves the skills of the bottom 40% of workers and improves fairness in the workplace?

Well Kevin Rudd gave a good indication in his budget reply speech. Pour the money into developing trades centres in public secondary schools. That is to the way to increase the productive capacity of the economy. Will it work? I have no idea. But it is an example of "fresh thinking" --far more so than lifting the cap on domestic full fee places in universities; it is a thinking about how working Australians can aspire to the accumulation of wealth.

And it gets the ALP a foot back into the economic debate that it has, by and large, excluded itself for a decade or so. Is this the way to recast Labor as a modern, progressive political party; a signpost as to how modernised Australian Labor would seek to develop new ideas for 21st century Australia? Maybe. It has to do some fresh thinking because in Question time since the budget has been dominated but by the Government taunting Labor over its industrial relations policy, and not by Labor attacks on the Government.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 9:20 AM | | Comments (5)
Comments

Comments

I dont wish to poo poo giving money to schools But!
The way the school based apprenticeships are now is better.
The best on job training is on job training. The technical stuff is done in the classroom and thats what the schools/techs are doing now.
Might sound good to those that dont understand whats available to kids in this area now.

Les,
the skills training is currently done in some schools and is linked to industry and it is very popular. These are regional vocatinal orientated schools that are not linked to high academic achievement so that students can go to university to do professional courses.

My problem with Rudd's proposal is twofold.Firstly, TAFE seems to have been sidelined. Why not reform TAFE?

Secondly, a trade is not as good as a university degree in fostering clever smart thinking that gives us a knowledge nation.

Trades are being touted now mainly because the mining industry has has driven the wages and expectations of youth higher and higher.
5 years in the future what do we have...lots of tradesmen with no jobs....
RE your last statement...yes perhaps but bear in mind...getting a trade is a high achievement to some kids and the parents of those kids

Les,
Its not a case of either trades or university as the Howard Governent usually puts it. Public investment is needed in both.

I would like to see the stats on Seek Learning....and watch them to see how they go over the next couple of years.
the number of student studying is this way could easily double in a couple of years