Thousands of TAFE students will get a free education under a Labor plan to address skills shortages.
On Sunday Labor leader Michael Daley announced as many as 600,000 TAFE places would be made free in areas like childcare, aged care, disability care and various construction fields.
The plan would cost $64 million over four years and would begin in 2020.
“Free TAFE will help those starting out or those retraining to find jobs in industries that are crying out for more workers,” Mr Daley said.
Keira MP and Labor’s spokesman for the Illawarra Ryan Park said the policy would benefit the Illawarra.
“In the Illawarra one of those areas that is particularly topical is aged care and disabiliity,” Mr Park said.
“We know that sector, along with our trades, has been an area where we’re growing in terms of our economic activity.
“Hopefully this will make sure that we have the skills to match it.”
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Mr Park said Labor would use federal criteria and rankings to decide which courses would fit the “skills shortage” criteria.
The money for the policy would come from a reallocation of funds, Mr Park said.
“I look at this as an investment,” Mr Park said.
“Yes, it costs money and we’ve been clear about that. But we can do that because we’re not going to proceed with certain things, like these massive stadium rebuilds in Sydney.”
The $64 million would be used exclusively on the free places; it would not be used to pay for extra TAFE teachers.
Mr Park said Labor would monitor the program and, if it was successful, moves would be made to employ extra teachers.