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 Shadow Minister for Small Business Jenny Aitchison added:

“This announcement is a great win for small businesses who often struggle to find skilled workers.”

“By increasing the opportunities for young workers to gain the skills that small businesses need in the 21st century, we will help young people get skilled jobs, and small businesses to develop skilled workers.”

“We know that many employers pay the TAFE fees for their apprentices. This is a great way for Labor to support small businesses in the trades.”

“Many small businesses and not-for-profit service providers in the human services have highlighted the problems of finding skilled workers in this rapidly growing sector. Labor’s free TAFE courses will enable them to develop trained staff at a much lower cost, enabling them to put more resources into the care of their clients.”

Country Labor candidate for Upper Hunter, Melanie Dagg applauded the announcement, saying:

“Labor’s commitment to free TAFE will change lives across the Hunter and all regional NSW.”

“Free TAFE is the ultimate jobs plan. Country Labor 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.

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