In the fifth day of our 7 questions in 7 days, we asked our federal candidates: Given the Illawarra’s high youth unemployment and structural changes to the economy, how can our local education services be improved to give today’s students better job prospects when they leave school?
Candidates were given until 5pm yesterday to respond by email.
Larissa Mallinson, Liberal
We have a plan to support local young job seekers by providing apprentices with interest free "Trade Support Loans" of up to $20,000 over four years to help with their everyday costs. We'll provide local apprentices who complete their apprenticeship with a 20 per cent discount on their Trade Support Loans.
The Liberals with our strong economic record will create a stronger more diversified economy, to create two million jobs within a decade. Locally in Gilmore, we'll also invest $2 million into Ulladulla's Dunn and Lewis Centre to facilitate a regional facility for training and sporting activities for young people.
Our Plan will provide more incentives and more opportunities for young people to get a job and keep it.
May King, Palmer United Party
The Palmer United Party is committed to education funding with a policy of generous direct federal funding to schools.
The people on the ground know best what their school needs are. We also have a policy of doing away with HECS fees so that people graduating don't start work with a debt around their neck.
Personally, I also agree with trade training places and upgrades and funding to agricultural education.
It is distressing on many levels that the Illawarra has the highest unemployment in Australia and should I be elected to represent us in Canberra I will be doing everything possible to reverse that trend. I attended a wonderful forum the other evening at Dapto organised by the community. It deserves funding and support and I would be fighting to get that
Federal funding and support. I would also convene meetings with specialised speakers and programs to help people get jobs. No more strategies, paper work blah blah but action to really help people re-train, have more education in whatever field they choose and generally be a conduit for change and help.
I have raised three children and I know how important employment is for their quality of life. I think the Illawarra needs a champion and our party leader Clive Palmer wants to be just that, and I would like to be our strong voice in Canberra.
Wayne Hartman, Non-Custodial Parents Party (Equal Parenting)
We need to provide more courses at TAFE and improve education services and provide more pre-apprenticeships and traineeships in a chosen field but we need more employment opportunities for this to happen.
Stephen Jones, Labor
Labor's Trade Training Centres are giving school students access to industry-standard training, helping them complete school and get a job. There are eight in Throsby and three being built.
With more local services-based jobs, students need access to training in a range of vocational areas through our great TAFE system - Labor will invest more.
Labor will ensure construction projects employ more apprentices and trainees so they can learn a skill and get higher completion payments.
Better access to universities means that there are 190,000 more uni students than when Labor came to power, many from low SES backgrounds.
Peter Moran, Greens
Without proper investment in education the gap between rich and poor will continue to widen. That is why the Greens support full funding of the Gonski reforms. The old parties only support partial funding.
We support a $5 billion per year injection into education that will deliver smaller class sizes, better support for teachers, more specialised teachers to help those students with special needs and an increase in university funding - not the cuts to universities proposed by Labor.
Education cuts are dumb cuts.
All the Greens policies are costed by the Parliamentary Budget Office so you can know they are affordable and deliverable.
Gary (Angry) Anderson, Nationals
Education is something extremely close to my heart. University, while an invaluable part of our education system, is not for everyone. Students should be exposed to many career paths, including university attendance, vocational training and apprenticeships. There are great opportunities for students to enter into rewarding careers in regional Australia especially here in Throsby and they should be encouraged to pursue them. If I get the job, I will push for regional employers to receive incentives to give students work experience and gap year employment, fostering local career and job opportunities.
Paul Matters, Independent
1. It is critically important to rebuild a strong TAFE and increase funding.
2. Provide through TAFE comprehensive courses of foundation skills training.
3. Subsidise apprentices rather than subsidising employers of apprentices so young people who can't afford apprenticeships and are living under the poverty line have a real choice to break the unemployment cycle.
4. Keep TAFE affordable and accessible to all.
5. Increased recurrent funding to the Illawarra education system.
6. Full funding and implementation of the Gonski program.
Brian Boulton, Democratic Labour Party
I believe that education should be relevant to the growing, changing community and workplace. I support an increase in the inclusion of TAFE courses in the high school curriculum in order to provide appropriate education for students who do not wish to go to university.
The DLP supports a voucher system of education funding where each student is allocated an amount but the student/parents can choose how to spend it.
This allows parents and students to design their education the way that best suits them as they can use the vouchers to pay for a combination of school, TAFE or private courses.
John Flanagan, Non-Custodial Parents Party (Equal Parenting)
Structural changes in the Illawarra can have a significant adverse impact on family relationships with its subsequent social problems.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics published a report titled Parental Divorce Or Death During Childhood in September 2010.
This ABS Report found that on average, those who experienced parental divorce or separation had lower levels of school completion, less employment participation and lower personal income as an adult than those who did not.
To help reduce the effects of these outcomes, we support the need for strengthened shared parenting legislation. This is to ensure the full implementation of a rebuttable presumption of equal-time shared parenting.
Sharon Bird, Labor
The Illawarra economy is transitioning from heavy industry to high quality manufacturing and services. This requires a skilled, highly trained workforce.
In Cunningham, Federal Labor has invested nearly $100 million on modernising each local school. Labor's Better Schools package will deliver an average $1.6 million extra to every school in our area.
We've provided more than 7800 computers and invested nearly $4 million in local school Trade Training Centres. We've invested in record numbers of apprenticeships and traineeships.
We've invested nearly $13 million in improving TAFE facilities at the Wollongong and West Wollongong TAFE campuses. We are determined to protect our TAFE system for the future.
We'll also connect every premise to the NBN infrastructure that will deliver high speed fibre broadband because education doesn't stop at the school gate and our children need and deserve the broadband of the future.
Helen Wilson, Greens
Our public high schools educate most of the students at risk of unemployment. To help schools encourage disadvantaged students the Greens will add a further $2 billion to Labor's Gonski funding plan in its early years.
Now that students have to stay at school until they're 17, these schools must have the resources to give them skills, confidence and resilience. Students need to be aware of local job and study opportunities. Schools need to liaise with TAFE, prospective employers and community services. They need well-targeted and funded vocational programs.
Phillip Clifford, Liberal
If elected, one way a Coalition will support young people after school is to help apprentices to complete their training with interest-free Trade Support Loans of up to $20,000.
The Illawarra has high youth unemployment levels and apprenticeship completion rates are far too low. Our region's productivity and competitiveness depends on a skilled and trained local workforce and this policy will help to lift apprenticeship completion rates, build a skilled local workforce and strengthen the Illawarra's economy.
Providing better support to apprentices is just part of our Real Solutions Plan to build a stronger region and a better future for all Australians.
Ann Sudmalis, Liberal
See Larissa Mallinson's response.
Terry Barratt, Greens
Research shows that every public $1 invested in tertiary education grows the economy by $26 and tax revenues by $8. So, the government's university funding cuts of $2.3 billion don't make economic sense and don't add up given its own forecasted shortage of 2.8 million higher skilled qualifications needed by industry by 2025.
To meet this we are seeking a 10 per cent increase in university per student base funding. To provide the high-level skills and workforce development so vital to our economic future, the Greens will deliver an extra $400 million per year for TAFE. The funding to cover these commitments will come from cuts in the mining industry tax concessions.
Neil Reilly, Labor
Skills are best learnt through a combination of on- and off-the-job training, particularly for young people who need to earn while they're still learning.
Trade Training Centres in our high schools, a Labor initiative, satisfies this criterion. In order for our apprenticeship and trainee system to survive, we need to focus on why we are training people - for jobs, not simply as a tick-box exercise. The Prime Minister's recent announcement for apprentice grants and clear pathways forms a clear platform for the bright future of our next generation of tradespeople.