Remarks, Canberra
National Skills Week; Australian Apprenticeships Ambassadors
29 August 2016

John Hutchinson: We feel very privileged – particularly given the present company and having a legend as Kevin Sheedy here today representing the AFL, even though we’re rivals – when it comes to the Australian community and the pursuit of career paths, we feel very privileged to be part of today. We’ve got currently around 120 elite players in our game that are pursuing a trade, and we think it’s such an important thing. As you’ll see via the video clips that we’re about to release today, so many of our guys say that it not only makes them better players, but better people, and it sets them up for life. It gives them a career path beyond football. So again, we feel very privileged to be part of today, and very grateful. Thank you.

Alan Tongue: Yeah, just to back up what John has spoken about too, it’s a great pleasure that we can be here and showcase some of the great work that we are doing behind the scenes at- as the NRL organisation. Myself [indistinct] automotive vehicle mechanic, so I started with an apprenticeship way back in 1999, and just echoing words that John’s already spoken about, it’s given me great life skills. It’s given me that security when my playing career was finished that I had some work in that space. It’s just given me, yeah, like I said, those great life skills, and it’s important to note that when you see the players out there on the field, the great work that they are doing behind the scenes and readying themselves, and the impact that they can have on the younger generation and the amount of times that we’ve been into schools and showcasing some of the great work that they are doing, and also to promote career pathways in apprenticeships is really, really important. So yeah, once again, thank you for the opportunity. 

Kevin Sheedy: Hi, thanks for everybody being here. Obviously it’s with great pride that I’m here representing AFL SportsReady. To me it’s something that a number of people – myself in that group with the late Ron Evans, AFL Commissioner, Bill [indistinct], Simon Crean – with both parties believe that the great opportunity for us … and this is very early 1990s, if we put a dollar surcharge on every finals ticket – that’s been done in the last over 20 years now – that we would raise a considerable sum of money and start what we believe would be a fantastic opportunity for the youth of Australia. Not only in AFL and sport in general, but we should be a very proud country. We’re the one country that has the four football codes. We’re the only country that has the four football codes, and we should be very, very proud of that fact. 

To see the young people come up and come through their trades and apprentice- I’m an apprentice tradeperson, I’m a plumber by trade. When I finished my trade, I was in the Defence Forces for national service, which also gave me an opportunity to keep working in my trade, and then of course when I’d come out of the Army I was asked to start basically the first ever development role in AFL history. So that was a full-time job. I was about 24 years of age, and to see what’s happened since then, with the consideration and cooperation of us with the Governments of Australia and the State Governments, this has been one of the best programs we’ve ever seen in developing the youth of Australia. Not only the youth of Australia but people that might just need that second chance to take on an opportunity to seek what they might love a little bit later in their life after Year 12. Not everybody’s great at Year 12, and we know that, but sometimes a person of 23 or five or seven thinks I feel I’m an outdoors person, or an indoors person, but it’s just great that all the sports codes have really worked hard to achieve this success and this opens every other area of our employment force. Thank you very much.

Karen Andrews: Well good morning. It’s a pleasure to be here today for a number of reasons. Firstly, for the launch of National Skills Week, which runs from today, 29 August, through until 4 September. And it’s an opportunity for us to showcase the skills of our apprentices and our trainees, and to encourage those people who have an interest in those fields to take on an apprenticeship or a traineeship and to go on to work in the vocational educational field. It’s also great to be here today because the NRL and the AFL have long been supporters of apprentices, primarily for their players, but also to support the promotion of apprenticeships more widely through the community. 

So the NRL has been part of the Australian Apprenticeship Ambassadors Program for a number of years, and the AFL is joining that program, and they’re doing that because they believe in the apprenticeship system and that it provides opportunities, not just for people now, but to develop fulfilling careers into the future. So it’s certainly a great pleasure to be here. It’s been fantastic to meet some of the trainees and apprentices that have gone through the system here today, and I’d have to say that the thing that stands out from here today, other than trying to catch a ball kicked by Mr Sheedy is listening to those people talk with pride about their jobs and the roles that they have had along the way. If we can get these people out into the community, then we will have gone a long way to promoting the value of apprenticeships, and to encouraging more young people to not only commence, but complete their apprenticeship programs. It’s a pleasure to be here with my colleague, Minister Simon Birmingham, and also with Assistant Minister Zed Seselja, who I know are very supportive of the apprenticeship program, and I’d like to invite Minister Birmingham to say a few words.

Simon Birmingham: Thanks Karen. I am very pleased to be here supporting the Assistant Minister for Vocational Education and Skills, Karen Andrews, in this launch of National Skills Week and this extension of some of our support for apprenticeships around Australia, it’s a delight to be here with Senator Zed Seselja, assistant minister and particularly Senator for the ACT but also with so many hard working apprentices or tradespeople who have completed their apprenticeships as well as with some of the stars of the NRL and AFL. To have legends of the game like Alan Tongue and Kevin Sheedy supporting us in the promotion of apprenticeships and the encouragement of young people, not just footy players but those actually in school today to think about undertaking a trade in the future because it’s really important that we do get young people to realise that apprenticeships and vocational education are not second or third best pathways; they’re a great option for people that are really important for Australia’s economic success but can also provide enormously valuable opportunities for young people in their career choices. 

We know that for many people who complete a trade-based apprenticeship, they’ll have stronger employment outcomes than your average university graduate, higher starting salaries and greater likelihood of going on to run their own business, to be an entrepreneur, to employ other Australians, so enormous opportunities for people and we see that in the examples of individuals here today who have undertaken their apprenticeships and in doing so have gone on to now play senior roles in the businesses they’re working in.

I am very pleased today that the NRL is releasing a new series of videos promoting involvement in apprenticeship and that AFL SportsReady is coming on board to join our Apprenticeship Ambassadors program because in doing so they’re demonstrating that they’re partnering with the Turnbull Government to be stars, not just on the field but off the field in promoting the best possible opportunities for young Australians in terms of their career development.

So my thanks very much to the NRL, the AFL for all they’re doing to promote this great cause in joining hundreds of other Australians who are part of the apprenticeship mentoring program nationally who support and encourage young people to pursue careers of great value to them. 

Thanks everyone.