Hinchinbrook MP, Andrew Cripps, has called out the Palaszczuk Government for cutting funding to a key North Queensland training program, as youth unemployment rates continue to increase.

Speaking in the Queensland Parliament, Mr Cripps said he had previously warned Labor Ministers about the lack of support for the Ultimate Rural Training Centre at Alice River, north of Townsville.

“Operated by respected trainers Geoff and Vicki Toomby, this program gets excellent outcomes for students, many of whom have problematic, or disadvantaged backgrounds” said Mr Cripps.

“We’ve been told this program is too costly per participant, but this ignores the fact they achieve 80 per cent employment placement in real jobs for students who complete their courses” he said.

“These are real outcomes that make a huge difference to the people who get this training – meanwhile under Labor’s policies, youth unemployment in North Queensland is still going up”.

“I was recently appalled to learn that the Palaszczuk Government has significantly cut funding to RTOs for the purpose of delivering certain training programs covered by the Certificate III Guarantee”.

“The Certificate III Guarantee is a fantastic vocational training initiative of the previous LNP Government and The Ultimate Rural Training Centre delivers Certificate III in Rural Operations”.

“Funding for Certificate III Guarantee programs, such as Rural Operations, depends on the demand for the skills, including among ‘disadvantaged learners’ and people from regional areas”.

Mr Cripps said he understood support for Certificate III in Rural Operations courses had been slashed by between $1,000 and $1,350 per student, despite the costs of delivery remaining fixed.

“Geoff and Vicki Toomby tell me that demand for reliable employees in the rural sector with these core industry skills is still strong and they understand these funding cuts were unannounced”.

“If these cuts are not reversed, the student contribution fee will have to increase and this will put the training out of reach for most of the participants – the Toomby’s need more support, not less”.

Mr Cripps said the Ultimate Rural Training Centre regularly took students referred from youth justice programs and the Departments of Corrective Services, Communities and Child Safety.

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