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The Forum > Article Comments > Time to recruit five-year-olds to ensure future prosperity > Comments

Time to recruit five-year-olds to ensure future prosperity : Comments

By Jenny Macklin, published 4/3/2005

Jenny Macklin argues Brendan Nelson is not revealing the extent of Australia's skills shortage.

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I refer to the article written by Opposition Spokeswoman on Education, Jenny Macklin, yet again Ms Macklin has got her facts wrong.

The report Skills for Work which Ms Macklin mentions in her article has recently been completed and will be released publicly next week. If Ms Macklin were paying attention she would know officials from my Department confirmed in an Estimates hearing a fortnight ago, that the report would be released.

Contrary to Ms Macklin’s suggestions, the report finds that the Howard Government’s New Apprenticeships system has been an enormous success. It confirms that the Government’s policies have made New Apprenticeships more responsive to the needs of industry and have created new and more flexible opportunities at increasingly high skill levels, across occupations and industries that have not had a history of structured training.

In the twelve months to September 2004, 68,500 people commenced New Apprenticeships in a trade – a 19% increase on the previous year. Although we have made a lot of progress, there is still more to be done to address skill needs and we are getting on with it.

Minister for Vocational and Technical Education
Posted by Suzanne, Friday, 4 March 2005 11:26:43 AM
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This is interesting. For many years sections of the media and various organisations have been blasting the public about how important it is (particularly for males) to get in touch with their feelings. Now we are hearing how important it is for people to get in touch with the world around them, through such things as science.

Ho Hum.

This getting in touch with feelings has lead to an education system that heavily concentrates on feelings, and science has slid into near oblivion. While a child could describe what happened on their favourite TV program last night and how they felt about it, the same child may not be able to give a reason why the sky is blue and grass is green.

“Metal workers, toolmakers, mechanics, electricians, carpenters and bricklayers are all in desperately short supply.” The vast majority of such trade positions are made up of males, because females rarely apply. Frankly I believe they never will. Too dirty, too noisy, too hot, too heavy etc. It is men who will have to do it

Meanwhile most political parties do not even recognise men or fathers, as they do not have policies for men or fathers, except for some health policies to keep them alive. And, as can be seen even in so many articles in OLO, fathers are rarely even mentioned in the media.

Meanwhile government pours money into many organisation that can only be described as being highly ani-male, and those same organisations show almost no concern for reliable, objective research and data.

Both government and these organisations have also not shown the slightest concern for the 10,000’s of fathers who have been removed from their children, and quite a few of these fathers would be working in trades, (such as electricians, boilermakers, mechanics etc), and could act as a role model for the children.

So who is going to be the role models now?

I also find it concerning that the word “recruit” is being used for 5 year olds. “Encourage” perhaps, but the word recruit does have significant connotations of exploitation.
Posted by Timkins, Friday, 4 March 2005 11:36:26 AM
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How sad it is to read between the lines and realise that Jenny Macklin, a senior government leader, really has no clue of how to solve the problems facing our nation which she so learnedly discusses.

That she starts off with political sniping merely reinforces my perception that there are just too many people obsessed with personal gain and not with effectively fixing our growing social illness.

We need to get away from politics and properly fix the problems or we will have disaster!

This issue of a ‘skills shortage’ is a social problem, brought about by a change in culture personified by the frivolisation and idiotisation of the great mass of common Australian people. Our kids are being relentlessly saturated with the seductive trendiness of filthy hip-hop and decadent rap, mobile phones, computer games, hot cars, drugs, alcohol, sports, scumbag fashion and anything-goes sex.

How can anyone rationally wonder why they have no time or interest for science and study when all these other matters, hammered at them by cunning, disingenuous and self-serving marketers, crowd their underdeveloped brains?

Twenty-five years ago I warned that Australia would be facing a disastrous shortage of properly-qualified young workers. Twenty-five years ago there were no mobile phones, hip-hop, rap and on-yer-crack jeans, so how could I have known then that it would come to this?

Those who believe all the seductive attractions of modern life are the problem could never get it, which is why for twenty-five years they told me (as I am still often told today) that I did not know what I’m talking about.

I take no joy from telling you that, unfortunately I was never wrong….

It’s a lil’ old-fashioned thing called……discipline.

Oops, sorry for using such a politically-incorrect word, folks!

Two years ago, I warned that our governments cannot solve these growing problems. Two weeks ago, Premier Peter Beattie, responding to questions about the increasing violence on Brisbane’s streets, validated my warning. “There’s only so much a government can do”, said he, quite correctly.

Due to the 350-word restriction, the second half of this post will follow later.
Posted by ozaware, Friday, 4 March 2005 7:08:27 PM
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Continuing from my previous post….

Two years ago I stated that…

“It is delusional to think that the government's laws will keep people in line. It is very mistaken to think that to keep people honest, moral, decent and civilised requires only government intervention or control. Our government simply cannot police everything all the time—unless we become a kind of dictatorial 'police state'.

Do you want that?” (today’s comment: if you look at those lines of ‘riot-geared’ police in Sydney’s streets these past few nights, what are you actually seeing? By the way don’t get me wrong, I support our police 100%. Thank God we—for the most part—have them between us and the barbarians within our midst…)


“(there is a basic reason) why those who constantly seek a ‘quick-fix’, or come up with some or other ‘modern’ new, untested ideas or solutions, fail to comprehend the true causes of our social difficulties. (I can elaborate, another time perhaps?)
Which is why, despite their most strenuous and apparently genuine efforts, they watch in frustration as the problems within our society inexorably deepen.

Perhaps the most frightening fact of our growing problems is that our governments have absolutely no effective means of combating them, even when they ‘seriously’ try to. Worse, people at top levels of any government of any political persuasion cannot, or perhaps more accurately, dare not."


“Right now most people think.... ‘the government or police will deal with it’. WRONG (and forget our churches)"


“From better (accurate) understanding will come the wisdom that our society desperately needs from large numbers of people, which includes all leaders: political, religious, legal, educational and today’s most frighteningly powerful and dangerous social ‘leaders’ of all: commerce and the media.”

(end quotes)

There are solutions, folks, but whether people will listen and whether we have the intellectual courage to do what it takes is a whole other matter.

Those who care and are willing to absorb new and drastically different (and certainly more effective and productive) ways of thinking can learn more at and
Posted by ozaware, Friday, 4 March 2005 7:15:16 PM
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"Chalk and talk,Touch and wonder?" Here we go, Labor off in fairy land again.They wonder why they have been relegated to the dust bin of obscurity.What has 20,000 less university places got to do with fewer people being trained for the trades?The status of a uni degree doesn't necessarily make you a more productive human being.We now have degrees for nurses,police publics servants etc.What can they actually do? Where is the experience?
The major reason for skill shortage is that we have had 9yrs of economic growth which Labour has never achieved.The other reasons are disincentives for employers to expand their businesses due mainly to Labor Govt regulations.Just look at NSW.In their infinite wisdom they have brought in all these regulations supposedly to make the work place safer.Work cover is $2.5 billion in the red.The NSW Govt employees have three times the claims of private enterprise.Last year it was $672million.The NSW GOVT is responsible for the blow out in workers comp claims!So to remedy the situation the NSW Govt expands the beaurcracy inflicting rules ,regulation and fines on private enterprise to address a deficit in work cover their own making.To cap off this debacle the employer not only pays the premium but also the cost of a workers comp claim over a 3yr
period in the form of increased premiums.Now the the trades are a dangerous occupation.Why would you want to train some one under these conditions.To top it off we have unfair dismissal.Nearly on every occasion the employer pays.Guilty until proven innocent.There are a million small businesses in this country and they employ the bulk of the population.Why would they want to employ and train an apprentice under these conditions?Jenny Macklin you have no idea!I can't believe we have the potential of this sort of mentality to rule this country once again!Jenny ,get out there and talk to the business,the engine room of productivity.
Posted by Arjay, Friday, 4 March 2005 8:09:15 PM
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Anyone who's followed national politics over a period of years will have heard Labor's endless 'more training' refrain. It seems their only solution to any economic problem is for 'more training'. But what about training?

Is it really economically sensible to put everybody thru Year 12 and University like Labor wants? If those 20,000 students Jenny Macklin talked about went to University, what chance would the economy have of getting trades people out of them? Labor needs to get off its ideological high horse and recognise that not everybody is born to be a professor. That children who don't have the intelligence or commitment to further studies would be better off getting into the workforce rather than wasting time and taxpayers money pursuing something they're not interested in and society doesn't need.

Surely the large number of first year uni students that drop out tells us a large percentage of 'unsuitable' people are attempting uni?

I won't go into questions about why Jenny Macklin has been dept leader of Labor during a disastrous period in its history: why she's escaped all responsibility for any ills (don't mention gender!!); and of course why she's still there....
Posted by Josh, Saturday, 5 March 2005 12:26:07 AM
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