1 FEBRUARY 2017: The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) was pleased to hear that the Opposition Leader, Bill Shorten wishes to focus his energies on helping more Australians find an occupation through strengthening vocational education training and apprenticeships.

ARA Executive Director, Russell Zimmerman said the ARA was heartened to hear Mr Shorten’s views when he outlined his jobs and skills agenda at the National Press Club.

“As retail is a growing industry the ARA would welcome the opportunity to be involved in the National Skills Summit to boost productivity in the sector,” Mr Zimmerman said.

“The ARA has grave concerns around skills in the retail industry and we believe this initiative will increase employment and restore the backbone to Australia’s skills and training system.”

Mr Zimmerman said the Government needs to look at vocational education and training (VET) and higher education holistically, as VET is a shared responsibility and needs the attention all parties.

“The ARA is concerned about the decline in funding for vocational education and training, and urges the Government to put the future of young Australians first,” Mr Zimmerman said.

“Policy should focus on skills and vocational education to ensure that VET does not become the poor cousin to higher education.”

The ARA believes the National Skills Summit is a worthwhile initiative and is hopeful to be involved in the implementation and process.

“As retail is the largest private employer and a major employer of young people, the ARA would like to work with both the Opposition and the Government to support this initiative to increase employment and make it easier for retailers to hire and retain employees,” Mr Zimmerman said.

“Policies that strengthen the VET division, will ensure a more sustainable tertiary education system particularly for young people entering the workforce.”


For interview opportunities with ARA Executive Director Russell Zimmerman call: The ARA Media Line T: 0439 612 556

About the Australian Retailers Association:

Founded in 1903, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) is the retail industry’s peak representative body representing Australia’s $300 billion sector, which employs more than 1.2 million people. The ARA works to ensure retail success by informing, protecting, advocating, educating and saving money for its 5,000 independent and national retail members throughout Australia. For more information, visit or call 1300 368 041.


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