NSW Labor Candidate for South Coast Annette Alldrick and Kiama Andy Higgins were at the TAFE campus in Bomaderry trumpeting the party’s proposed tertiary education reforms.
Since 2011, at the Bomaderry campus, TAFE’s outreach program has been abolished, metal fabrication and welding course hours have been cut, fashion and design courses have been cut, the adult migrant english program has been subcontracted to a private provider, and electrotechnology, commercial cookery, tourism, hospitality, IT and light automotive head teachers have been sacked.
Mrs Alldrick and Mr Higgins said the tide will turn at the local campus if Labor wins the state election.
On Monday, Shadow Minister for Education Jihad Dib and Shadow Minister for Skills Prue Car announced a Labor government would “restore” TAFE with a guarantee of at least 70 per cent of vocational education and training funding.
They assured the South Coast Register they would be positioned to make a TAFE funding pledge closer to the election.
At present jobseekers interested in learning a trade have been missing out on local employment opportunities due to TAFE cuts according to Mrs Alldrick.
“I’ve been talking to a lot of tradies in the Nowra and South Coast area,” Cr Alldrick said.
“They’re really concerned because they actually have apprenticeships available, but they can’t afford to give apprenticeships to teenagers who will then have to travel to Wollongong or Sydney to do that part of the course.”
She said a tradesman has offered a 17-year-old jobseeker an apprenticeship with his growing local company, but the offer has gone begging, despite the teen’s desire to join the workforce.
“He would have to go Sydney to do the TAFE component of the course,” Mrs Alldrick said.
“The employer can’t pay for it, his parents can’t afford to pay for it, he can’t afford to pay for it. A lot of our young people don’t have the means to move to Sydney.
“They’re also concerned about him travelling up and down on the train at night on his own, he can’t afford a car.
“It would give him a great career, it would be really great for our young people to be able to stay, work and live in the area.”
Mr Higgins said TAFE provided a valuable launchpad for his career.
“Not all kids want to go to uni, I started my career as a tradesperson, I worked my way through, it was one of the best things I’ve ever done,” he said.
“There are some very skilled craftsmen and tradesmen, I learnt how to do things properly off skilled tradesmen, and I learnt the proper craft. What we see with the tick and flick of privatisation, we’re just losing all of that quality.
“We’re seeing the dismantling of the TAFE institution as we speak. It will end up totally privatised, underfunded, stretched and we will not have the quality we’ve had over the years.”