PREMIER Annastacia Palaszczuk and Deputy Premier and Treasurer Jackie Trad welcomed a record 48 new apprentices who today started their training at mining and construction giant Hastings Deering.
The trainees come from across Queensland and beyond, comprise the largest group in four years, and beat a record field to secure their apprenticeships.
The intake included 30 apprentices from Mackay and Rockhampton, five women and five indigenous with an even skew of both young and mature age applicants who will take on apprenticeships for auto electricians, boilermakers, diesel fitters, fitter machinists (AustChrome), mechanical fitters and electrical fitters.
"Today is a testament to the economic strength of our great state," said the Premier.
She said when Hastings Deering opened its 2018 online intake, it received more than 1,000 applications in the first 24 hours, and more than 1,800 by the time applications closed.
Hastings Deering managing director Dean Mehmet said the almost doubling of last year's recruit numbers reaffirmed the company's commitment to equal opportunities, training and the need to continually replenish it's talent pipline.
"Even though the resource sector is cyclical: continuing with apprenticeships is critical to avoid a skills shortage in the future," he said.
"As a country, Australia needs to remain agile and on the front foot for when the resources and construction sectors pick up.
"While many companies are running leaner operations than ever before we need to continue to offer both our young people and mature age workers career pathways."
Deputy Premier and Treasurer Jackie Trad said the quality and volume of applicants was testament to the growing strength of the Queensland economy.
"Queensland has been the employment powerhouse of the Australian economy over the past year, with one in four jobs nationwide being created in our state," Ms Trad said.
"Our economic plan is working to get people into apprenticeship and into work by creating confidence in the private sector to take on new people.
"It's incredibly alarming that this great work being put in danger by the slash and burn approach of the Turnbull Government, who seem intent on ripping off Queensland."
The Premier said Hastings Deering had long been a great example of the importance of apprenticeships and training.
"At this time of year, young Queenslanders who've just left school are embarking on the training and education that will set them up for lifelong careers," she said.
"They would be shocked to learn that Malcom Turnbull is preparing to rip $40 million in funding from Queensland after the Federal Government allowed the National Partnership Agreement on Skills Reform to lapse last year.
"That funding cut puts at risk up to 4,000 training places for Queenslanders - paths to rewarding, fulfilling long term careers that will no longer exist if Malcolm Turnbull has his way.
"These cuts to skills training are just part of a wider federal assault on Queensland's fair share of funding - for training, for schools, for hospitals and roads.
"This cohort of apprentices demonstrates the importance of regional Queensland.
"This is the only state in Australia where more than half the population lives outside the capital city.
"It seems Malcolm Turnbull and the LNP simply don't understand the challenge of delivering quality essential services across so many regional and remote communities.
"Queenslanders have borne the brunt of cuts from Tony Abbott and Campbell Newman.
At COAG this week I will have a clear message for Malcolm Turnbull - it's time to come clean on whether you're willing to give Queensland its fair share of funding."