Skills funding projects close to finalisation

The federal government's $3 billion Skilling Australians Fund is getting close to finalising projects that will be given the green light, according to the Assistant Minister for Vocational Education and Skills Karen Andrews.

Ms Andrews told the National Apprentice Employment Conference that discussions were well underway with the states, at both a ministerial and official level, to determine the projects that would proceed.

Many of the states were "quite advanced" in developing projects, the Minister said.

"I can assure you that while there might not be as many visible signs that work is happening as some people would like, there is a tremendous amount of work behind the scenes and I'm very confident that it's coming towards a conclusion," Ms Andrews said.

The fund will see the states nominate eligible projects and provide matched funding, with the aim of creating some 300,000 apprenticeships over four years.

The Shadow Minister for TAFE, Skills and Apprenticeships, Senator Doug Cameron told the conference that the government's reliance on funding the program through a levy on firms importing skilled migrants meant it was likely to fail.

"If the number of skilled migrants goes down under the Coalition, so will funding for skills development and apprenticeships," he said.

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