Jan 14, 2004

Thanks to Minister Nelson more young Australians are being turned away from TAFE


MEDIA RELEASE: Anthony Albanese – 14 January 2004

For the sake of the thousands of young people who will be turned away from TAFE this year, I today urged the Minister for Education, Science and Training, Dr Brendan Nelson, to immediately restart negotiations with his state and territory counterparts over funding for the Australian National Training Authority (ANTA) Agreement.

I made this plea during an address to the Australian Education Union’s (AEU) 2004 National TAFE Council AGM currently being held in Hobart. The AEU represents TAFE teachers.

The previous 3-year Agreement expired in 2003 and after failing to reach agreement with the States and Territories prior to Christmas, Minister Nelson suspended further negotiations until October 2004. The State and Territory Ministers rightly refused to accept the Commonwealth’s initial funding offer as it contained no growth funding.

Minister Nelson’s decision to suspend negotiations will deny thousands of young Australians the education and training opportunities that would greatly improve their long-term career prospects.

Last year alone 15,600 young Australians aged 15 to 24 were turned away from TAFE despite meeting all the entry requirements – an increase of 20% on 2002. (Source: ABS, Education and Work, 6227.0)

The unemployment rate amongst those workers without a post-secondary school qualification is three times higher than for those with such qualifications.

The Minister’s stubbornness will also deny the Australian economy the skilled workers it so desperately needs. Already there are acute skill shortages across a range of key industries.

The latest National Skill Shortage List identifies shortages across a range of skilled occupations including plumbers, carpenters, motor mechanics, hairdressers, childcare workers, aged care workers, bricklayer and electricians.

Furthermore, the Australian Industry Group has reported “over half of the businesses surveyed face skill shortages.”

Australia urgently needs to expand the number of TAFE places. We cannot afford to wait until October.

Labor will end the Howard era of neglect by creating 20,000 extra TAFE places each year.