OUR TAFES AND APPRENTICES NEED A PM NOT AN AD-MAN

While apprentice numbers continue to fall, course prices go up and teachers are sacked, the Federal Education Department’s latest annual report confirms that since 2014, the Liberals have failed to spend a massive $919 million of their own TAFE and training budget – an underspend of more than 17 per cent. 

 

FINANCIAL YEAR

2014-15

2015-16

2016-17

2017-18

2018-19

TOTAL

Underspend

-$138m

-$247m

-$118m

-$202m

-$214m

-$919m

The programs most affected include apprentice and trade programs – including apprentice incentives for business, support to help people finish apprentices and a fund designed to train Australians in areas of need.

In the Illawarra we have seen a dramatic drop in apprentice numbers, course fees skyrocket, courses cut and the closure of Dapto TAFE.  This is a barrier to young people getting the skills they need to start their career and a barrier to people wishing to retrain to re-enter the workforce.

Back in August the Illawarra Business Chamber reported that their 2019 Workforce Skills Survey indicated a state-wide workforce shortage and that 72 per cent of businesses in the Illawarra indicated that skills shortages were increasing workloads for existing staff.  Local employers including in growing areas such as aged care constantly tell us about the difficulty in getting qualified staff.

In the Illawarra, the last figures released by electorate in March 2018 indicated that there were 2,441 fewer apprentices in training than when the current Federal Liberal Government was elected in 2013.  We are awaiting the release of new figures out of Senate Estimates this week.

Mr Morrison claims his Government “want[s] to really lift the status of vocational education in Australia,” but the truth is he’s shortchanging TAFE and training by nearly $1 billion. Appointing an Ambassador in Scott Cam is not a replacement for actually investing in TAFE and apprentices.

We have a skills crisis and the Liberals must start investing in TAFE, skills and apprentices to ensure the future prosperity of our economy and to ensure that Australians are able to get the skills they need to participate in our workforce.