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News from young workers

Andrews Labor Government announce Apprenticeship Reforms in response to Young Workers Centre campaign

Young Workers Centre applauds today’s announcement by the Andrews Labor Government that a re-elected Andrews Labor Government will establish an Apprenticeships Taskforce to improve safety and fairness for apprentices across the state.

For several years, Young Workers Centre (YWC) has called attention to the need for urgent systemic change, having documented an increase in apprentice exploitation across all sectors. Common reported issues include bullying, unsafe working conditions, poor training, insufficient supervision and wage theft. 

In September, YWC and public policy institute McKell released a high-profile report into the Victorian apprenticeship system, recommending greater accountability for employers, better support for apprentices, and more rigorous regulation. Young Workers Centre activists organised community meetings and online actions; shared their stories with media; participated in a roundtable and delivered a Megaphone petition, containing over 9,500 signatures to The Hon Gayle Tierney, Minister for Training and Skills.

In the wake of this tireless advocacy and activism, a re-elected Andrews Labor Government’s taskforce will, among other things, improve regulation and oversight, simplify complaint reporting, increase employer accountability and establish more rigorous bans on employers who have mistreated apprentices.

Quotes attributable to Young Workers Centre Director Felicity Sowerbutts:

“What this shows is that when young workers come together, we can achieve big change. It’s how we won wage theft laws - and it’s how we will win a safe and fair system for apprenticeships. That will change people’s lives.” 

“We are thrilled that a re-elected Andrews Labor Government will establish an Apprenticeships Taskforce. This is exactly what our research with McKell Institute, and our activists have called for. 77% of our legal centre clients this year are apprentices. The changes put in motion by this taskforce will mean that Victorian apprentices start their working lives in safe and fair conditions - and it will give them a much better shot at completing their apprenticeships.”

“We congratulate the apprentices who have bravely shared their stories, attended campaign actions and met with MPs, and we commend the Andrews Labor Government for making this commitment to transform the system.” 

For interviews with representatives from YWC or any apprentices, call YWC Director Felicity Sowerbutts: 0421 856 786