Labor has pledged to allocate 5,000 fee-free digital and ICT TAFE spots if it is successful in this weekend’s Federal Election.
Shadow Minister for the Digital Economy, Ed Husic, Shadow Minister for Skills, TAFES and Apprenticeships, Doug Cameron and Labor candidate for Chisholm, Jennifer Yan, released a statement announcing the plans on Monday, as the election campaign goes into its final days.
“Labor will waive upfront fees for 5,000 ICT students so they can go to TAFE and get the education and skill development they need,” the statement reads.
“We want at least 50 percent of those places to go to women. In consultation with states and territories, we will identify and develop a set of approved courses for the places.”
IT networking and systems administration, software and website development and UX/UI skills are listed as the likely areas of focus.
The initiative is part of Labor’s $200m plan to “revitalise” TAFE in Australia, which will see TAFEs receive a guaranteed two thirds split of public vocational education funding.
This plan also includes $1 million for a new digital engineering centre at Melbourne’s Polytechnic’s Preston campus and $2 million for a cyber security training centre at the Kangan Institute at Broadmeadows TAFE.
Speaking at Box Hill TAFE in Melbourne, Husic pointed to Australia’s tech skills shortfall.
“It's been estimated by the Australian Computer Society between now and 2023 we need 100,000 more digitally enabled, capable workers,” he said.
“We know that technology will be used more and more by businesses to improve productivity and also strengthened firms.”
He said the changes were aimed at putting Australians “in the best position” to navigate the challenges of digital technologies.
The announcement also included a commitment to improve upon the digital apprenticeship program.
This will see Labor’s Apprenticeship Advocate engaging with unions, industry, TAFE educators and experts, and expand apprenticeships and traineeships in the technology sector.
“We’ll refresh it and expand it to ensure that young people have a clear and solid pathway of acquiring skills through digital traineeships or apprenticeships,” said Husic.