WE NEED TO PUT TAFE BACK ON THE AGENDA

The world is changing at an ever increasing rate and young people are being left behind in every sense of the word.

Youth unemployment has increased to 12.6 per cent and young people are less confident in their job skills and future employment prospects.
 
We can’t afford an entire generation that is unable to find work, buy a home or start a family. This is what will occur if Government does not make every effort to create opportunity and address youth unemployment.
 
Recently, it was determined that Sorrell in Tasmania’s South East has the highest youth unemployment rate in the state standing at 21.8per cent. This means over 1 in 5 young people in the region are unable to get a job. These extremely concerning statistics aren’t limited to just Tasmania and it is entirely possible that the situation is underrepresented and much worse.
 
It seems that as a community we have accepted that casualisation of the workforce, short term contracts and insecure work are now the accepted norm.
 
The Tasmanian Council of Social Services (TasCOSS) is working with the Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry to ensure we address regions where youth unemployment is having a damaging effect on communities. This is welcome news but it is fundamental that the State and Federal Governments start to take vocational education more seriously and implement policy that will actually serve communities.
 
The Federal Government’s budget cuts have seen our vocational education attainment freefall. In the last five years they’ve cut over $3 billion from vocational education and training (VET) and a further $270 million from apprenticeship support in the 2018 Budget.
 
These cuts hit hard in Tasmania where we have a huge skill shortage. TAFE courses have been cut, campuses are at risk of closure and TAFE teachers have lost their jobs.
 
These cuts deter people from making the shift to TAFE after year 10, 11 or 12, limit educators ability to provide the best training and hinders the entire capacity of the state to meet demand for sectors requiring a skilled workforce.
 
Frankly, if you haven’t got a plan for TAFE, you haven’t got a plan for innovation. Nine out of ten new jobs created in the next 4 years will need either a university or TAFE qualification.

I think we need to focus on partnerships across all educational institutions.

We need to get serious about supporting Tasmanians to acquire the skills they need through vocational training as opposed to just going to university.

In Tasmania, there are jobs on the skills shortage list like bricklayers, chefs, aged care workers, early childhood educators, plumbers, chefs and hairdressers. It makes no sense not to be investing in TAFE so that we have a skilled local workforce ready to go.

It truly baffles me that a Federal Government is unable to find the money to properly fund TAFE but it can find $80 billion to give away to big business and the banks.

You can never invest enough in education, and I’m proud to represent an Australian Labor Party that will create opportunities for our kids, scrap upfront fees and make it easier for Tasmanians to gain the skills they need to get a trade, a traineeship or a quality job – and make it easier for businesses to fill skills shortages.
 
This article was originally published in The Examiner on Thursday 5 July 2018.