Unions and the opposition have poured scorn on the Prime Minister’s plan to enlist TV host Scott Cam to encourage more people to take up trades, labelling it a stunt and an insult to young people.
Cam, a qualified carpenter who is the long-time host of TV renovation series The Block, has been named as Australia’s first national careers ambassador.
The Coalition won’t say how much it will pay the Gold Logie winner to promote the appeal of becoming a tradie, labelling the deal “commercial in confidence”.
But Skills Minister Michaelia Cash said the deal with the TV builder was ultimately “about shining a light on vocational education and training in Australia”.
The high-profile hire has fallen flat with Labor’s education and training spokeswoman Tanya Plibersek.
“Scott Cam’s a good bloke, but if the Liberals were serious about fixing the skills crisis they’ve created, they’d stop hiring celebrities and start funding TAFE and apprentices,” she said.
“Under the Liberals there’s a national shortage of tradies, cuts to TAFE and training, and apprentice numbers have fallen off a cliff – Scott Morrison hiring a celebrity is not going to fix any of that.”
Under the Liberals:
👉$3b has been cut from TAFE & skills
👉Apprenticeship numbers have dropped by almost half
Stop hiring celebrities and properly fund in TAFE and apprentices.https://t.co/cLpzuadCDU
— Australian Unions (@unionsaustralia) October 9, 2019
The Australian Council of Trade Unions was also unimpressed.
“This is a stunt, and it’s an insult to millions of young people who have no path to employment thanks to the Morrison government,” ACTU boss Sally McManus said.
“This government has made $3 billion in cuts from skills training and TAFE – a celebrity appointment doesn’t fix youth unemployment in regional areas, which is in crisis.”
— 🌹MsRose🌹 (@msrose2343) October 10, 2019
Cam, who started his carpentry apprenticeship with his brother at just 17, said he was aiming to point people in the right direction through the “one-stop shop” at the National Careers Institute.
He appeared with Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Senator Cash at a launch for his new role in Randwick on Thursday.
“I’m passionate about apprenticeships, trade life and trade work,” he said.
Introducing Australia’s first National Careers Ambassador @ScottyCam9!
Fantastic to make the announcement with the PM @ScottMorrisonMP. As a former apprentice and proud tradie Scott Cam will be a sensational advocate for the vocational education and training sector! 🇦🇺#VET pic.twitter.com/LxVf8HElPV
— Michaelia Cash (@SenatorCash) October 10, 2019
Mr Morrison said on Thursday that Cam’s role would be to highlight how practical and technical training can lead to high-paying jobs.
“By learning a trade you’ll earn more, your skills will be in demand and you’ll help build our country and keep our economy strong,” he said.
Mr Morrison said university, which had become the default expectation for young people, wasn’t the only path to success.
“I want to see more Australians become plumbers, electricians and bakers than lawyers and consultants,” he said
“I would like to see more of them going on to become their own boss.”
Cam had his own business before first appearing on TV in 2000.