THE Hunter’s industries will be consulted about which TAFE courses could be offered for free to the region’s students, under a Labor plan.
Shadow Minister for TAFE and Skills Prue Car visited Metford TAFE on Tuesday to discuss Labor’s plan if elected to offer free certificate-level courses across NSW in areas where there are skill deficits, such as childcare, aged care and disability care and apprenticeships in fields such as construction, plumbing and electrical trades.
“But what we will also be doing is working with local industries to ensure colleges are offering free courses that suit the needs of the local labour market,” Ms Car said.
“Something missing from what the government has done is working with local employers and local businesses.
“Every area has different needs and different industries.
“There’s going to be areas that need more work in particular industries than others.
“We have to make sure young people don’t leave and there’s work for them locally.”
Ms Car said this could “potentially” mean that TAFE colleges in the Hunter offer additional courses for free than in other parts of the state.
Electrician Danielle Barnes said the proposed scheme was an opportunity to “bridge the gap”.
“A lot of people who hope to become apprentices now have a better opportunity. They won’t have to pay their course fees nor will their boss.”
The Berejiklian government announced last June it would spend $285 million over six years to fund 100,000 fee-free apprenticeships.
Labor has long said it would safeguard 70 per cent of vocational and further education funding for TAFE and private providers would have to compete for the remaining 30 per cent.
“The privatisation of the sector has failed,” Ms Car said. “We need something bold to happen to fix it.”
Labor leader Michael Daley also announced on Tuesday that if elected, Labor would invest an additional $900 million in regional and rural roads.
This is almost double the existing $500 million program and will bring total investment to $1.4 billion.