Economic growth alone won't solve Tasmania's unemployment and underemployment problems, state Labor Leader Rebecca White argues.
Ms White wants a return to a Jim Bacon-era policy on apprenticeships to help drive an increase in people gaining trades skills at a time she says when Tasmania has an unacceptable unemployment rate yet businesses are struggling to find skilled workers to fill vacancies.
"... we do have an unacceptable unemployment rate and the worst under-employment rate in the country, so trades and skills and training has to be a priority, but it's also about looking at where government is spending money," the Opposition Leader said.
"Government has opportunities through investment in infrastructure in particular to incentivise or mandate - as was the case when Jim Bacon was the premier (1998-2004) _ those works be undertaken with 10 or 20 per cent of the workforce being apprentices, so we're actually training people for the future ...
" ... when you're spending public money on those sort of projects, the Labor Party believes we should also be training Tasmanians and giving them apprenticeships so they can get the qualifications that they can stay and work here."
Asked if underemployment (working people wanting more hours) could solve itself through further economic growth, Ms White said the state economy was performing relatively well, but the underemployment rate was the worst in the nation.
" ... so you can't just expect that because the economy is going well people are going to find secure, full-time jobs because we've seen a decline in the number of full-time jobs in Tasmania despite the economic activity."
It was put to Ms White full-time jobs had grown in recent months.
"But there's still a decrease of what we've had over the past few years and that's the clearest indicator to me that you can't just rely on the economy to solve these problems," she said.
She also argued government should aim to hire full-time permanent staff, such as nurses, in preference to short-term and casual appointments or fixed term contracts.
"It gives them the security to go and get a loan so they can get a house or a car if they want and actually put their roots down in the community and have a good quality of life," she said.
"It's about making sure that government is mandating apprenticeship ratios on jobs that are funded by the taxpayer so that we can give people good opportunities to get a good career in a trade.
"There's a lot of emphasis on university these days and I certainly applaud that, but we can't ignore the enormous role that trades training plays in our state and we have to support that."
Labor says apprenticeship numbers have tumbled since the state Liberals took office (in 2014).
Education Minister Jeremy Rockliff recently said TasTAFE was abolished and 4000 apprentices were "erased" when Labor was in government.
"Only we will protect TAFE, provide the funding it deserves and ensure Tasmanian students are trained to support our growing economy," Mr Rockliff said.