Senator Doug Cameron visits Wyong TAFE to propose measures to reverse decline in Central Coast apprentices

CUT FEES: Senator Doug Cameron said the Central Coast had seen a collapse in apprentice numbers under the Coalition government. Picture: Alex Ellinghausen
CUT FEES: Senator Doug Cameron said the Central Coast had seen a collapse in apprentice numbers under the Coalition government. Picture: Alex Ellinghausen

LABOR’S TAFE spokesman Doug Cameron has visited Wyong TAFE this morning where he proposed a range of measures that he said would reverse the decline in apprenticeships on the Central Coast.

Senator Cameron said a Labor federal government would scrap upfront fees for 100,000 TAFE students.

The move was welcomed by Emma McBride, Labor’s member for Dobell, who hosted Mr Cameron’s visit.

“This is good news for Dobell and the whole Central Coast,” Ms McBride said.

“It opens up TAFE and will make it easier for local people to gain valuable skills and education.”

Waiving the upfront TAFE fees for 100,000 students would mean many more students could attend TAFE, she said.

Senator Cameron said a Bill Shorten-led government would also invest $100 million in a Building TAFE for the Future Fund, to revitalise TAFE campuses in regional and outer metropolitan areas such as the Central Coast.

Member for Dobell, Emma McBride. Picture: James Brickwood

Member for Dobell, Emma McBride. Picture: James Brickwood

He said Labor would also:

  • Guarantee two-thirds of government vocational education and training funding goes to TAFE to ensure quality learning and improved job opportunities for Australians.
  • Ensure one in every 10 jobs on Commonwealth priority projects are filled by Australians apprentices.
  • Provide 10,000 pre-apprentice programs for young people who want to learn a trade.
  • Provide 20,000 adult apprentice programs for older workers who need to retrain.

“The Liberals have undermined and neglected TAFE and the apprenticeship system,” Ms McBride said.

Apprentice numbers had declined in Dobell by 951 since 2013, she said. 

Across the country, there are 140,000 fewer apprentices and trainees, a decline of 35 per cent.

“In our community, with youth unemployment at a stubbornly high 18.6 per cent, TAFE has always been a trusted pathway to a secure job,” Ms McBride said.

“Now, I hear that young people have to travel out of the area to attend TAFE courses – to Sydney or the Hunter Valley.”

Senator Cameron said the Central Coast had seen a collapse in apprentice numbers since the Liberals came to government.

“The Liberals’ budget cuts have left our skills and training sector in chronic decline,” Senator Cameron said.

Last year, Parliamatry Secretary for the Central Coast and Hunter, Scot MacDonald, said staffing at NSW TAFE campuses “will always be driven by course demand and student numbers”.

“After years of under-investment by Labor in TAFE assets, TAFE IT, and TAFE modernisation, student numbers are once again increasing,” he said.

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