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Electricians slam federal government for axing Industry Skills Fund

Master Electricians Australia has today slammed the federal government for its announcement yesterday that the Industry Skills Fund (ISF) will be axed on December 31 2016.

Federal Treasurer, the Hon Scott Morrison MP, announced that the fund will no longer be accepting applications come the close of the year as part of changes announced in the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO) statement yesterday.

MEA CEO Malcolm Richards condemned the announcement, stating that it will leave the electrical industry unskilled in several key areas.

“This is a real kick in the teeth to the electrical industry on the eve of Christmas and a poorly considered announcement from the Government,” Mr Richards said.

“The decision by the Treasurer to axe the Industry Skills Fund will leave the electrical industry completely unskilled in key areas such as battery and solar.

“It is no secret that Australia is on the verge of a battery boom and the industry is desperately lacking the skilled labour that will be needed to deal effectively with this.

“The electrical industry is struggling at the moment and there are no other mechanisms in place to effectively assist with training costs within the industry.”

Mr Richards said that the system had been difficult to operate, leading to a low number of students being trained via the ISF.

“The Government has made it extremely difficult to access money from the fund and that’s what has led to the low number of students being trained,” Mr Richards said.

“The criteria in place was extremely tight and required small businesses to demonstrate growth directly related to any training undertaken.

“The system was also not set up for consortium applications and prevented employers from substituting a student who decided not to go ahead or withdrew from the training.

“The solution from the government should have been to relax the criteria and make the fund more accessible, not to axe it altogether.

“MEA calls on the federal government to reconsider their decision and the adverse effect it will have on the electrical industry in the long term.

“The Government needs to specifically address the skills shortage we currently have in battery technology and the decision to axe the Industry Skills Fund will only set the electrical industry back further on this issue.”

Malcolm Richards is available for interview. Please phone SAS Group on 07 3221 9222.

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