Mr PEDERICK (Hammond) (15:03): My question is to the Minister for Innovation and Skills. Can the minister update the house on how increased skills funding is creating jobs in Hammond?
The Hon. D.G. PISONI (Unley—Minister for Innovation and Skills) (15:03): I thank the member for Hammond not just for his question but for the evening we spent at the Murraylands Training and Employment Awards.
The member for Hammond and I attended the Murraylands Training and Employment Awards just recently, a couple of Fridays ago. It was terrific to celebrate the achievements of local apprentices and trainees and acknowledge the local businesses that employ and train them.
Murraylands Training and Employment is an integral part of the region, supporting 79 apprentices and trainees who are currently earning while they are learning in a variety of vocations, including engineering trades, heavy commercial vehicle technicians, carpenters, joiners and cabinetmakers, air-conditioning and refrigeration trades, horticultural workers, electricians, plumbers, clerical officers and much more. The major employers include Jordan Plumbing, BHP (Olympic Dam), the Housing Industry Association, Maxima Training Group and Hindmarsh Plumbing Services.
Murraylands Training and Employment have a strong commitment to employ and train new generations of skilled workers, and they have been doing this as a group training organisation for more than 20 years, a commitment that goes hand in hand with the Marshall government's skills-led COVID jobs recovery. South Australia has rebounded strongly, with business confidence at a record high, a record number of South Australians in jobs, unemployment at 5 per cent (the lowest level it has been for more than a decade), a record number of South Australians in the state's history working full-time and the lowest youth unemployment in the country.
Our industries continue to demand skilled staff, and we know that training and upskilling are key to building a competitive workforce. Since we launched our $200 million Skilling South Australia program three years ago, the Marshall government, together with business and industry, has achieved more than 48,000 new apprentice and trainee commencements, and more than 2,850 businesses have employed an apprentice or trainee for the first time. These are incredible numbers.
Many of these businesses have been in business for decades, never taking the plunge to employ an apprentice or trainee but, because of the measures of the Marshall government, they have employed an apprentice or trainee for the first time—and they have enjoyed the experience. We are partnered with industry across the state to co-design more than 200 skills projects to boost apprenticeships and traineeships in a range of sectors. These have been bespoke designed with those businesses and industries to remove barriers and bring in enablers to support those employees with their on-the-job training.
After years of decline under the previous Labor government—in fact, the biggest decline in the nation—South Australia is now leading the nation in the growth of apprenticeships and traineeships. According to the latest figures from the NCVER, South Australia recorded the highest percentage increase in the country—21.5 per cent compared with the previous year, which was twice the national increase—and the largest percentage increase in the nation of apprentices and trainees in training at 22.5 per cent. Regional and remote apprenticeship and traineeship commencements grew by the largest percentage in the nation, at 25.3 per cent in a single year.
As we emerge from COVID-19, it has never been more important to continue investing in training talented South Australians just like those acknowledged at the awards night. The Marshall government again thanks employers who employ and train these amazing apprentices and trainees. While we were in the region, the member for Hammond and I also visited the Bridgeport Hotel, where we met a whole lot of trainees who were employed by the Bridgeport Hotel to start new careers in the hospitality sector.