NSW Labor says it is demonstrating its commitment to TAFE by providing over 600,000 free certificate level places in courses over the next decade if they are elected in March.
The initial places will be in childcare, disability care, aged care, construction, plumbing, and electrical trades.
A statement by Shadow Minister for TAFE and skills Prue Car said Labor would restore TAFE to its rightful place as the premier public provider of vocational education and training across NSW.
It would also ensure that skill shortages are being addressed, especially in rural and regional communities.
“The public TAFE system in NSW has been gutted under the Liberal and National Government, with 5,700 teachers and support staff sacked, 175,000 fewer students enrolled, and the number of apprentices and trainees plummeting by more than half since they came to office in 2011,” Ms Car said.
Locally, Labor candidate for Goulburn Dr Ursula Stephens said this commitment to TAFE will change lives.
“As a former TAFE teacher, I know how important it is to provide vocational education and training, especially in regional communities,” Dr Stephens said.
“The courses at Goulburn TAFE and Moss Vale TAFE Campuses have been cut to the bone. Students wanting to pursue a trade have to travel long distances.
“I have heard many stories of young people wanting to enrol in the building trades in Yass, Goulburn and Moss Vale, only to be told they will have to travel to Wollongong or Canberra – an impossibility for someone without a car or a licence, or public transport.”
She said TAFE has traditionally been the public provider of Vocational Education and Training.
“Where no other Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) operate, without TAFE young people have no study options other than online learning.
In Goulburn, the only other RTO is CTET, who provide training in hospitality and hairdressing.
“How do you learn to lay bricks, or weld pipes on a computer? These skills need practical training and practice, under the supervision of a qualified trainer,” she said.
Dr Stephens said Labor’s announcement would mean the resurgence of TAFE in regional communities.
“It will provide options for people wanting to gain qualifications and employment in the growing industries of health and welfare, disability support services, aged care, as well as new industries including renewable energy,” she said.
“Free TAFE is the ultimate jobs plan. It will deliver the skilled workforce of the future and revitalise the vocational education system after eight years of neglect by the Liberals and Nationals.”
The statement said Labor would create opportunities for people to develop their skills, by requiring 20 per cent of work on major NSW Government construction projects to be allocated to apprentices, trainees, indigenous Australians, and long term unemployed.