Labor will fund more TAFE courses and remove fees for some vocational education courses under a plan announced by leader Bill Shorten.
Bass Labor MHA Ross Hart said the policy would help bolster the workforce in key industries such as manufacturing and aged care and put Northern Tasmania on a good footing to take advantage of potential markets such as the defence industry.
The plan, announced two weeks ago, will see upfront fees scrapped for 100,000 TAFE students nationwide and force companies to make sure one in every 10 workers is an apprentice on any Commonwealth project.
The policy is anticipated to cost $470 million over four years and $708 million over a decade.
“What Labor is offering is certainty of funding, which will lead to a steady stream of students,” he said.
“It is also certainty of funds to improve facilities; states will feel more confident to upgrade their facilities if more students go through the institution.”
Mr Hart said Labor’s plan would help to establish TAFE and vocational education as a legitimate alternative higher education option and would help it shed its mantle as “the poor cousin” to university education.
Federal VET Minister Michaelia Cash said the Hodgman and Coalition government were looking after skills education.
“Labor’s record on skills education, particularly apprentices, is one where Bill Shorten as Employment Minister oversaw the biggest ever annual decline in apprentice numbers,” she said.
“For young Tasmanians, only the Hodgman and Coalition government has their skills education interests at heart, with the Hodgman Government signing up to the Coalition’s $1.5 billion Skilling Australians Fund, to create new training opportunities for young Tasmanians.”
Ms Cash said a $60 million trial for apprentice wage subsidies had also been launched for rural and regional Australia.
“This means there are more opportunities for kids in Launceston to gain an apprenticeship at a local business. I visited Launceston last week and met with young apprentices, who were committed to working in their home city, and we are helping them do that through this program.”
Vocational education is funded jointly be federal and state governments through a national partnership agreement.The states are given access to a pool of funding from the federal government to use in their respective TAFE institutions.
The state government is the primary provider of funding for the VET sector and for TasTAFE in Tasmania.
At the state election in March, the government committed to providing TasTAFE with a guaranteed 70 per cent of the training budget.
It also committed to invest an additional $15.5 million over the next five years into TasTAFE “to build a stronger training system that supports more jobs.”
At the 2017-18 state budget, the government committed to $3.2 million over two years, in 2017-18 to improve the standards and reputation of TasTAFE’s Drysdale brand.
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