The Labor Party has made a number of new Federal election announcements on TAFE and skills.
The most significant new announcement is of a $75 million Renewables Training Package – including support for 10,000 apprentices in the renewable and clean energy industries. This package includes:
- $20m in TAFE upgrades to ensure apprentices and TAFE students work with latest equipment, including batteries, solar panels, turbine and grid components;
- $10m clean energy training fund to support industry partnerships for the training and upskilling of workers in clean energy industries, through partnerships between TAFEs, RTOs, unions, and industry; and
- $45m for 10,000 apprenticeships in the renewables industry through an $8000 employer incentive and a $2000 apprentice incentive payment.
Other recent commitments include
- A commitment of $1.4 million to upgrade TAFE Queensland’s Whitsunday campus to boost for the region’s tourism and resort industry. The Whitsunday campus is strategically located to cope with increased economic development within the tourism industry.
- A $1.5 million upgrade of facilities at Holmesglen TAFE in Melbourne.
- A $1 million Building Information Modelling (BIM) and Digital Engineering Centre at Melbourne Polytechnic’s Preston campus so students are job ready for Victoria’s major infrastructure projects.
Labor has also committed $537 million to a much-discussed increase in the pay of early childhood educators, who are some of Australia’s lowest paid workers, to “support a quality early education and care system that delivers the best outcomes for children.”
Community Colleges Australia comment
“Community Colleges Australia welcomes these commitments, which are all positive additions to Australia’s education and training system. CCA is concerned, however, that all specific Labor commitments have to do with funding TAFE, and there has not been any mention to date of the Australia’s valuable and high-performing adult and community education sector,” said Dr Don Perlgut, CCA CEO.
“The planned support for the pay of early childhood educators is also a positive addition. However, CCA is keen to ensure that those additional funds will not have a negative impact on Early Childhood Certificate III and Diploma training provision. We would be particularly disappointed if the quality of early childhood training was damaged by unscrupulous RTOs keen to ‘cash in’ on a new market of prospective workers. The lessons of the VET FEE-HELP scandals are still very much in our minds,” said Dr Perlgut.
The Grattan Institute has been highly critical of Labor’s plans to subsidise the pay of childcare workers, wondering “how much will this policy really benefit the workers it is designed to help?” By contrast, the Institute believes that Labor’s plan to cut childcare costs was the biggest economic news of the campaign, “likely to produce a bigger bang for each dollar spent than the tax cuts proposed by either of the major parties.”