Country Labor candidate for Upper Hunter Melanie Dagg applauds party’s call to boost skill-shortage areas

LABOR’S commitment to free TAFE will change lives across the region, as well as regional NSW, according to Country Labor candidate for Upper Hunter Melanie Dagg.

The recently-unveiled contender for the local state seat, after launching her campaign at Singleton last week, applauded Michael Daley’s announcement that his government would alleviate costs 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 make TAFE genuinely accessible to all, whether they are school leavers, people re-skilling, or changing careers.

“Free TAFE is the ultimate jobs plan,” Mrs Dagg said.

“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.

“Free TAFE will help those starting out or those retraining to find jobs in industries that are crying out for more workers.

“The public TAFE system in NSW has been gutted under the current government, with 5700 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.

“Labor 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.”

The party 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.

“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,” NSW Shadow Minister for TAFE and Skills Prue Car said.

“Labor will revitalise the TAFE system after years of neglect from the Liberals and Nationals, and ensure that TAFE is properly funded.”

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.

Labor’s policy has been costed by the independent Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) at $64.5 million over forward estimates.