$50 million for TAFEs

New training courses will give unemployed Gippslanders the skills they need for the jobs they want, under a $50 million plan unveiled by the state government.

Eastern Victoria MLC Harriet Shing said the $50 million fund would save TAFE institutes which were struggling financially and help them build partnerships with companies in the six growth sectors of the economy identified by the government’s Back to Work Plan to create at least 100,000 jobs.

The fund will offer one-off grants to TAFEs to develop and expand courses that align with the needs of local employers, including those eligible for the Back to Work Scheme.

Grants will also assist in the financial repair of the TAFE sector, laying the ground work for a more solid financial footing and making the sector sustainable in the future.

According to the 2014 Victorian Training Market Report, TAFE enrolments had declined by a third, young people were turned away from government subsidised training and training participation declined across the state.

The current government has laid the blame at the feet of its Liberal-National predecessor.

The new fund is in addition to the $320 million TAFE Rescue Fund, which is already helping institutes to recover from the cuts and grow for the future.

Ms Shing said the fund would support TAFE institutes to strengthen industry ties and help tackle unemployment in the Eastern Victoria region.

“I encourage TAFEs to apply for a grant to develop and expand courses to align with the needs of the region’s employers.”

Training and Skills Minister Steve Herbert said the fund would allow TAFEs to better meet the training needs of businesses that hire unemployed youth, the long-term unemployed and retrenched workers as part of the Back to Work Scheme.

“Providing extra skills support for the Back to Work Scheme will ensure extra productivity for participating employers,” he said.

Shadow training minister Steph Ryan has accused the government of “rewriting history”.

“Daniel Andrews seems to have forgotten it was the former Labor government that opened up the skills training sector to competition and forced TAFEs to compete with private providers.

“That decision by Labor has seen private training providers now account for 56 per cent of total government subsidised enrolments while TAFEs account for 25 per cent.

“The Coalition was funding $1.2 billion a year in vocational education training – compared with just over $800 million in the former Labor government’s last budget – meaning the Coalition increased funding for skills training by 50 per cent.”