Opposition leader Bill Shorten has appealed to tradespeople and apprentices, saying an elected Labour Government would boost apprenticeships, create more training opportunities on public sector construction projects and guarantee payments for subcontractors on Government projects.

In his budget reply speech, Shorten reiterated a previous promise under which an incoming Labor Government would set a target that at least one in every ten jobs on major Commonwealth funded projects would be filled by Australian apprentices.

This, he said, will help create around 150,000 new apprenticeships – a number equivalent to the number of apprenticeships which he says have fallen under the Coalition.

As well, Labour would create a new apprentice advocate – the necessity of which Shorten says was demonstrated by the death of an eighteen-year-old apprentice at Macquarie Park.

Shorten also said policies announced earlier this year would safeguard the pay of workers, tradespeople and subcontractors.

The key part of this revolves around a ‘Tradie Payment Guarantee’ announced in February.

Under this plan, Labour would stablish a new requirement for large Commonwealth construction projects that would see project bank accounts established that use cascading statutory trusts, ensuring that all businesses down the supply chain involved get paid on time.

Labor will also develop a national framework to ensure that no sub-contractors or small businesses are left out of pocket as a result of dodgy “phoenix activity”.

Further, Labour has promised to create a $7 million Tradie Litigation Fund for subbies to access justice and see regulators take dodgy bosses to court and win.

In his speech, Shorten said Labour would move to boost wages and safeguard the earnings of workers and tradespeople.

“Only Labor has a concrete, practical plan to get wages moving again,” Shorten said.

“One, if we win the election, we will move to restore the arbitrary cuts to Sunday penalty rates within our first one-hundred days.”

“We will stop companies from using sham contracts and dodgy labour hire companies to cut people’s pay,” Shorten said

“And three, our tradie pay guarantee means that subcontractors working on Commonwealth projects get paid on time every time.”

Shorten’s speech followed the Federal Budget on Tuesday in which the Coalition promised a $525 million package to create 80,000 new apprenticeship opportunities.

This includes by doubling incentive payments available to employers who take on apprentices to $8,000 and also through providing incentive payments for apprentices themselves worth $2,000.