To celebrate National TAFE day the Minister for Vocational Education and Skills, Senator Scott Ryan, will today release a list of the inflated course costs that have occurred during their term of office further demonstrates the Liberals’ refusal to address the rorting and waste of taxpayer money occurring in the vocational education sector.

Instead of writing his list, the policy-free Minister should have been looking at ways to address the price-gouging which has occurred under their watch.

The Minister’s own discussion paper details how course fees have tripled since the Liberals were elected:

“Most of this growth has occurred since 2012. For example, average tuition fees grew from $5,917 in 2012 to $14,018 in 2015”.

Page 16, Redesigning VET FEE-HELP Discussion Paper

Students are facing exorbitant costs to undertake diploma courses and all the Minister can do is to criticise strong and sensible policy options. 

Students have been ripped off, the taxpayer has been ripped off and the Liberals have sat back and watched the waste and mismanagement happen while shonks and sharks have profiteered.

Labor has a policy to turn off the tap to the shonks and sharks with a VET FEE-HELP cap of $8,000  per student per year.  For genuine high-cost courses such as aviation, engineering and nursing, providers including TAFEs can apply for an exemption if they can justify the cost.

Since his elevation to the Ministry, he has not put forward one policy in any of his portfolio areas.

Apprenticeships – policy-free zone for the Liberals.

Skills – policy-free zone for the Liberals.

TAFE – policy free zone for the Liberals.

By contrast Labor will today announce that a Shorten Labor Government will establish Commonwealth Institutes of Higher Education to deliver new technical and education opportunities to areas where access remains difficult and participation is too low.   

Labor will also announce Tools for Your Trade payments of $3,000 per apprentice to help apprentices to complete their apprenticeships and also reinstate funding for Group Training.

The contrast with Labor’s position at this election could not be clearer:

  • A Shorten Labor Government will act decisively and immediately by introducing a loan cap of $8,000 a year in the VET FEE-HELP program to stop the huge waste of taxpayers’ money, to prevent price gouging of students and to improve training.
  • Labor will establish a VET ombudsman, and will conduct a full, evidence-based review of the vocational education and training system in order to build a stronger sector and weed out dodgy providers and student rip-offs.
  • Labor will ensure a proportion of the jobs on major federally-funded projects are delivered as apprenticeships. One in 10 jobs on Labor’s priority infrastructure projects filled by Australian apprentices. This will create 2,600 new apprenticeship places for young workers seeking a job and real skills. 
  • Labor will also establish an Apprenticeships Connect search portal and appoint a dedicated Apprentice Advocate.
  • Labor will also establish the Apprentice Ready program will offer a 20-week, industry endorsed pre-apprenticeship course for trades on the National Skills Needs List. Delivered through local TAFEs, Apprentice Ready will be targeted to young Australians who have been unemployed for six months or more.
  • Labor will pilot a National Skills Recognition Entitlement program with 5,000 places to help mature-aged, retrenched workers turn their extensive work experience into formal qualifications.
  • Labor's National Priority Plan for TAFE, including a funding guarantee, consolidates TAFE as the public provider within the VET sector, ensuring TAFE’s viability and strength.

Labor already has a package of measures investing in people to help them get real skills, and good jobs including:

Rather than sitting at home writing his list bagging TAFE, maybe he should focus on at least putting forward one policy this election.

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