A state Labor plan to make TAFE free for courses in skill shortage areas will see some 600,000 fee-free TAFE courses created over the next decade.
Country Labor candidate for Port Macquarie, Peter Alley, says Labor's commitment to TAFE will change lives.
He says a 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,” he said.
“In regional areas, this will be a game changer.
"Too many school leavers go to the cities because they do not have the opportunities here.
"By revitalising TAFE, targeting the courses where we have skills shortages, will address these shortages and work to keep our community growing together.”
Mid North Coast, NSW Business Chamber regional manager, Kellon Beard, says the NSW Business Chamber is focused on addressing skills shortages across the state.
"Skills shortages are a big problem for the Mid-North Coast as shown by our recent business conditions survey," he said.
"It’s a complex problem though and not one that can be fixed by simply offering fee free courses - although that may be a step in the right direction.
"The feedback we get from business is that, despite reforms made over recent years, a capable TAFE that is equipped to deliver the skills needed by industry, hasn’t been delivered yet.
"So we think this needs to be the priority.
The feedback we get from business is that, despite reforms made over recent years, a capable TAFE that is equipped to deliver the skills needed by industry, hasn’t been delivered yet.Kellon Beard
"The NSW Business Chamber would like to see TAFE revamped and refreshed - we’d like to see improved enrolment processes, streamlined student assessment, contemporary course content developed in partnership with employers and other stakeholders – we call it TAFE 2.0 – but we don’t think efforts should end there."
Port Macquarie MP Leslie Williams said that under the Coalition, NSW is now the largest provider of government-funded VET in Australia, with student increases of 29 per cent over the last two years.
"And almost 80,000 fee free places are provided each year for apprentices, Aboriginal students, students with disability, domestic violence survivors and refugees," she said.
"Unsurprisingly, Labor’s announcement is light on detail and without any reference to how much it would cost, or how Labor would pay for it."
Opposition leader Michael Daley announced the move on Sunday and said the policy has been costed by the independent Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) at $64.5 million over forward estimates.
The policy means that the free TAFE courses will be offered for all certificate level courses in areas where there are skills shortages, such as childcare, aged care, disability care, construction, plumbing and the electrical trades.
Mr Daley said that the Coalition record of failure on TAFE included, 175,000 fewer students enrolled, 5700 teachers and support staff sacked, the closure of TAFE campuses in Dapto, Qurindi and Bega, and, course fees skyrocket by 22 per cent.
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