News Labor promises free TAFE and more uni places in $1.2 billion election pitch

Labor promises free TAFE and more uni places in $1.2 billion election pitch

The Labor party is promising a big boost for TAFE. Photo: Getty
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A Labor government would deliver 465,000 free TAFE places and boost university funding by almost $500 million to help an extra 20,000 Australians get jobs or upskill.

Labor leader Anthony Albanese will use a speech in Sydney on Sunday to outline key elements of the federal opposition’s skills plan.

Polls have consistently shown Labor has an edge over the Liberal-National coalition on education and training, and strategists are hoping to make the most of this in the lead-up to the federal election expected in May.

TAFE would receive an extra $621 million over four years, including $50 million for a capital works fund, under the plan.

As well, $481.7 million would be invested to deliver up to 20,000 extra university places over 2022 and 2023, making it easier for Australians to find a spot at university and get a job.

“This is good policy for jobs, good policy for people looking to train or retrain, and good policy for businesses, which need more skilled workers,” Mr Albanese said.

Anthony Albanese will outline Labor’s skills promises on Sunday.

It is estimated nine out of 10 jobs of the future will require a VET qualification or a university degree.

One in four Australian businesses are experiencing critical skills shortages at the same time as there are two million people who are either looking for a job or want to work more hours.

Areas hit by the skills shortage include hospitality and tourism, aged care, disability care, nursing and community services.

There are also gaps in the fields of trades and construction, resources, digital and cyber security, new energy and advanced manufacturing.

The plan will benefit school leavers, workers wanting to retrain or upskill, and unpaid carers seeking to get back into the workforce.

A $50 million TAFE Technology Fund will improve IT facilities, workshops and laboratories.

Labor education spokeswoman Tanya Plibersek said Australia should be investing more in university.

“This year, the offer rate fell to its lowest level in years. Over 50,000 applicants missed out on the opportunity to go to uni.”

Labor will prioritise the new funding for universities which are able to offer additional courses areas like clean energy, advanced manufacturing, health and education, or where there are skills shortages.

Priority will also be given to universities targeting under-represented groups like those who are the first in their family to go to university, and people in regional, remote and outer-suburban areas, and Indigenous people.