Reskilling NSW by stopping the Tory war on TAFE

By Prue Car MP Shadow Minister for Skills

TAFE must be brought back to the once world class institution that we know it has the capacity to be. Young people need a Government that recognises TAFE as a credible and trusted pathway which can lead to a successful job.

Traditionally, young people do one of three things when they leave school – take a gap year, start full time work or enrol in university.

But how many young people are considering TAFE as an option in their post school years?

In NSW we are experiencing a skills shortage where qualified tradesmen and women are highly sort after and needed to fill gaps in the labour market.

TAFE offers a pathway to a successful career, especially for those who want to learn a trade.

University shouldn’t be the natural option for young people who want to continue learning when they finish school.

But rebuilding trust in TAFE and vocational education requires a shift in thinking from Government. 

We need to boost apprenticeship numbers in NSW if young people are to consider a trade instead of university.

We need to be encouraging skills pathways for young people and break the conventional thinking that university is the only post school option.

Unfortunately, the Liberal National Government has put that thinking into practice by cutting TAFE to the bone and disassembling public vocational education. They fundamentally do not believe in TAFE.

In NSW we have seen competitive funding models rip money out of TAFE and into the hands of the dodgy training providers. We have seen course fees soar to astronomical levels - pricing students out of a TAFE qualification.

These actions have sent a devastating signal to students interested in vocational education, with enrolments plummeting by over 60,000 since the Liberals and Nationals took office.

On top of this, over 5700 of our world class TAFE teachers and support staff have been sacked since 2012.

These attacks on TAFE are robbing an entire generation of young people from getting onto the skills ladder to get the jobs they need for the future.

This is the Liberals and Nationals legacy when it comes to TAFE.

NSW Labor offers a different approach.

In his budget in reply speech, Opposition Leader Luke Foley announced that a future Labor Government will ensure that 15 percent of work on NSW Government construction projects valued over $500,000 to be allocated for apprentices, trainees, Indigenous Australians and the long term unemployed.

Our policy to boost apprentices will encourage young people into skills based employment so that they can get the jobs they need for the future.

On top of this, TAFE must be brought back to the once world class institution that we know it has the capacity to be. Young people need a Government that recognises TAFE as a credible and trusted pathway which can lead to a successful job.

NSW Labor’s bold plan to guarantee 70% of VET funding for TAFE will return public money to our trusted public education provider.

Labor will always believe that public education is a Government’s highest priority. This is no different when it comes to the public vocational education provider in TAFE.

Labor has a vision for TAFE. We believe that that vocational education should be an aspiration equivalent to studying a university degree.

NSW Labor will make this happen.