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Labor to make TAFE courses free

Media Release

A Daley Labor Government will make TAFE free for more than 600,000 certificate level places in skill shortage courses over the next decade, starting with child care, disability care, aged care, construction, plumbing, and electrical trades.

Labor’s plan will help people to find jobs in industries that are crying out for more workers, and make TAFE genuinely accessible to all, whether they are school leavers, people re-skilling, or changing careers.

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.

A Daley Labor Government will restore TAFE to its rightful place as the premier public provider of vocational education and training across NSW, ensuring that skill shortages are being addressed, especially in rural and regional communities.

Labor will also utilise existing public infrastructure to 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 a combination of: apprentices, trainees, Indigenous Australians, and long term unemployed.

NSW Shadow Minister for TAFE and Skills Prue Car announced the policy:

“Abolishing fees for courses in areas where there is a known skill shortage is a real, common-sense way to connect eager workers with good jobs.

Labor will revitalise the TAFE system after years of neglect from the Liberals and Nationals, and ensure that TAFE is properly funded and accessible to all.”

NSW Labor candidate for Manly, Natasha Phillips-Mason applauded the announcement, saying:

“Labor’s commitment to free TAFE will change lives.

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.”

By 2023, it is expected there will be: 85,000 more jobs in the health care and social assistance sectors in NSW compared to 2018; and 41,000 more jobs in the construction industry.

Prue Car, Shadow Minister for TAFE and Skills

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10 comments

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  1. New England Cocky

    FINALLY somebody in a future government has recognised that TAFE is the premier trade training organisation in Australia. Now follow up by cancelling the registration of all those sham “RTOs” that rip off prospective students and provide no advantage to the Australian economy.

  2. terence mills

    It was so sad to see the way that TAFE was gutted by the coalition, it had so much to offer the future of young Australians.

    I will never forget a trades lecturer at one to the pop-up, whizz-bang, rip-off private colleges showing the media the lecture notes that he had been given : they were photo copies of TAFE materials.

  3. king1394

    This is incredibly important. Getting people back into TAFE courses will revitalise many sectors with a new generation of skilled and able workers. My many TAFE courses, done when they were free, led me to jobs in a number of fields and ultimately to University even though I left school at Year 10, and like many women of my generation, only expected to get married and have kids. I hope the ‘basket-weaving’ courses also come back as they were important for people who needed to build confidence before attacking more substantial studies.

  4. Ill fares the land

    Hallelujah. The dismantling of the TAFE system (unhappily I believe this rot started under Keating, but the LNP turned it into a science rather than an art), has not only made it much harder for kids to leave school and get into trades (although the apprenticeship system never really seemed to work optimally – many tradies were typically reluctant to invest in an apprentice); but facilitated the flood of unskilled workers into Australia under abuses of the sub-class 457 visa system. The latter was a desirable outcome for employers, because flooding the job market keeps wages low – this has happened to an alarming degree in aged care and other health-related disciplines – in my estimation. But I have also seen employers importing welders and comparable trades; typically when employers insist they can’t find locally trained workers (when the reality is they don’t want local workers).

    I am not trying to be xenophobic about this. No system can be assured of fitting the supply of skilled workers into the available roles, but surely it makes sense to give local workers every possible assistance to get skills and jobs. It makes no sense to import cheap labour; simultaneously throwing local kids onto the social “scrap heap” into the unemployment system and into the clutches of a scumbag LNP obsessed with giving them less money (they are all bludgers after all) and into the clutches of the profit-obsessed and gouging spivs who operate the job-search industry – claiming billions in government money, abusing and exploiting the unemployed and delivering unacceptably poor outcomes.

  5. Yes Minister

    I’ll take pre-election promises seriously when those making the promise provide an affidavit sufficient to support a criminal action against them when they fail to deliver. Until then, I’ll consider the adage ‘if its a politician and its lips are moving …..’ proven.

  6. Andreas Bimba

    “into the clutches of the profit-obsessed and gouging spivs who operate the job-search industry”

    The awful truth, thanks Ill fares the land.

    I hope every Liberal or National Party led government loses in a massive landslide – they all certainly deserve it, especially the awful NSW government and the federal government.

    I would like higher education to be free again at least for the first degree and perhaps any further degrees could be subject to HECS. A living away from home allowance that is adequate should also be available to students with a reasonable means test applied.

  7. Robert

    Hope lag nudges are included.

  8. Harry

    TAFES have been gutted, power and gas utilities privatised, public services outsourced/Newstart is so low that the unemployed cannot live on it. Tertiary students were forced to pay substantial fees, Aged care is under-resourced, climate change is not being paid the attention it urgently needs, the financial services industry (full of ticket clipping parasites) has run amok due to inadequate regulation, “soft-touch” and under-resourced enforcement agencies, etc etc. Inequality and disadvantage is higher than it has been for years.

    Good on NSW Labor in following Victorian Labor in promising free TAFES; a society that values a skilled workforce needs to train its own first before importing it from OS.

  9. John Hermann

    The federal coalition seems determined to gut education as a whole, including universities. Commercialisation of education is rife.
    Particularly insidious is the necessity for students to go into debt in order to fund their educational requirements. And Australia seems to be following the U.S. student debt racket in this regard. Noam Chomsky summed it up : Debt is a trap, especially student debt, which is enormous, far larger than credit card debt. It’s a trap for the rest of your life because the laws are designed so that you can’t get out of it. If a business, say, gets in too much debt, it can declare bankruptcy, but individuals can almost never be relieved of student debt through bankruptcy.

  10. Rex Hewett

    Fantastic news for students & communities. Everyone should be able to access TAFE courses to progress in their career & life. Stop government funding of for profit training providers and the non TAFE providers will wither.

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