Earlier this year the NSW government lauded the fact that there had been a 11 per cent increase in the number of students opting to study a trade at TAFE NSW.
But on Monday Wollongong MP Paul Scully said the Berejiklian government was trying to defend the indefensible on TAFE.
“You can't trash something, get a small increase and then claim a victory,” Mr Scully said.
“Facts are there are 5700 fewer TAFE teachers across NSW, 25 per cent reduction in the number of students enrolled in TAFE across NSW and locally we’ve seen closes of campuses like Dapto.
“Dapto a thriving TAFE campus in the past is now a shopfront.
“West Wollongong TAFE campus on the government's hit list for sale in the past, will be on the hit list again if they get re-elected.”
Late last-year Adam Marshall, the Assistant Minister for Skills, said the NSW Government’s reforms to TAFE NSW were all about reducing duplication in the back office and spending resources on frontline education.
You can't trash something, get a small increase and then claim a victory.Wollongong MP Paul Scully
Mr Marshall said over the last two years enrolments in construction trades at TAFE NSW had increased by a “whopping 27 per cent”.
But Mr Scully and his fellow Labor state and federal MPs pointed to new figures showing a decline in the number of apprenticeships across the Illawarra to suggest the “TAFE and vocational education system could not afford another term of Liberal governments if it is to survive”.
At the end of March 2018 there were 2441 fewer apprenticeships in training in the Illawarra than when the current federal Liberal Government was elected in September 2013.
Fiona Phillips, the Labor candidate for the federal seat of Gilmore, said the 810 apprenticeships lost in her electorate represented a 30 per cent decline.
“That is a real worry for a area like ours which has the lowest workforce participation rate in Australia,” Ms Phillips said.
“I’m a former TAFE teacher and I know we’ve lost all our pre-apprenticeships. Under a Shorten Labor government we are putting back funding for pre-apprenticeship, which is really great news for our area.”
A federal Labor government will provide 10,000 pre-apprenticeships and will waive upfront fees for 100,000 students to attend TAFE.
At a state level, Labor will guarantee at least 70 per cent of all NSW vocational education and training funding for TAFE.
It will also establish a private provider investigations unit and employ 10 per cent apprentices on any NSW Government funded project over $500,000.
“These are real policies that are about skills training, about apprenticeships and ultimately about jobs,” Mr Scully said.
“We want to restore TAFE to be the centre of the vocational and education training system in NSW.
“Everyone knows when you want to get real skills’ training, businesses look to TAFE, students look to TAFE, parents look to TAFE as providing them with the skills they need to get them the jobs and the opportunities of the future.
“We are going to restore that.”