Abbott budget poses major threat to regional apprentices

TRADE apprentices that are the backbone of small businesses in regional towns across the country could face lay-offs if the Abbott government's first budget cuts training funding.

The chief executive of Group Training Australia, Jim Barron, on Friday urged the government to ensure funding for training programs and apprenticeships continues.

Mr Barron said the group represents about 150 group training providers across "every nook and cranny" of the country, representing 100,000 host employers and thousands of apprentices and trainees.

"We want to make it clear to the government our network needs ongoing solid investment to ensure we can keep training apprentices.

"This is particularly important in regional, rural and remote Australia where trades are the backbone of smaller businesses, and the support they give smaller communities."

He said some employers were already close to breaking point, and if further cuts were unveiled in the coming May budget "it won't take a great deal to see them laying off apprentices".

"We, like everybody, accept that the government is facing an incredibly tough fiscal situation, there's no money tree outside any business and the training sector is no different," Mr Barron said.

"But we want to make sure the dollars are invested in the right place, and back what works.

"And particularly from a regional perspective, the field officers working for your average GTO are servicing large tracts of land, it's highly resource intensive, but you have to maintain skills levels in those areas particularly."

The GTA's submission to the Federal Budget argues for the government to keep funding training that is directly linked to jobs, "rather than training for training's sake".

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