Labor launches “bold plan” for free TAFE
600,000 students could study at TAFE NSW for free over the next 10 years, in the next big election commitment made by Labor.
Under the plan free certificate-level places would be available in areas that are deemed to have skill shortages, such as childcare, construction and plumbing.
It comes after a report by the Auditor-General stated that TAFE enrollments dropped by 12.7 per cent from 2016-17 to 2017-18.
“This policy is aimed at driving students back into the system,” Shadow Minister for TAFE and Skills Prue Car said, speaking at Metford TAFE on Tuesday.
At a cost of $64.5 million to phase in, Ms Car labelled the move a “bold plan” and committed to not closing any campuses.
The policy would also cap funding available to private providers at 30 per cent.
It is a similar policy to what Labor took to the 2015 election, in which it sought to abolish the Government’s Smart and Skilled program and cap private provider funding. Smart and Skilled provides government-subsided training to eligible students.
“Smart and Skilled will not exist under a Labor government,” Ms Car said.
“We will be directly funding free TAFE courses…and we hope it means that kids and older workers are going to be flooding TAFE campuses.”
Labor candidate for Maitland Jenny Aitchison said that the city was particularly lacking in the ‘social helping’ workforce.
“Childcare, aged care workers have to fund all of that themselves,” she said.
“This will create career opportunities for young people that are missing out and provide the workforce for our services.”
In the 2018 State Budget the Government announced that it would fund 100,000 fee-free apprenticeships over six years, at a cost of $285 million.