Labor promises 5,000 free tech TAFE places

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Labor promises 5,000 free tech TAFE places

The Australian Labor Party yesterday announced a technology skills development policy.

The effort has two main elements: 5,000 fee-free places in TAFE technology courses and a future initiative that will “task [the yet-to-be-appointed] Apprenticeship Advocate to refresh and expand the digital traineeship pathway to help tackle digital skills shortages.”

The TAFE scheme will see a Shorten government waive upfront fees for 5,000 students.

It’s yet to be decided what they’ll study, but a statement from shadow minister for the digital economy Ed Husic said “Areas of focus will likely include IT networking and systems administration, software and website development and UX/UI skills.” But that’s an aspirational list for now: Husic’s statement said the topics won’t be decided until after “consultation with states and territories, we will identify and develop a set of approved courses for the places.”

The plan calls for half of the fee-free places to go to women.

The apprenticeship plan is even less detailed, offering only a pledge to “partner with industry, unions, TAFE educators and experts to expand the reach of quality apprenticeships and traineeships in the ICT sector.”

While these plans are sketchy, they do match some of the outcomes sought by CRN readers at our election policy roundtable.

At our roundtable, Michael Forrest of Forest Training said “We need to go back to the grassroots of the government running the education of this country. They need to do an audit and an understanding of what they think is going on and then they need to go to the government institutions and private institutions to engage with what is really happening”.

He added “An IT apprenticeship would be fantastic. It would be creating that opportunity for the jobs that don’t exist in three years.”

Husic’s plans aren’t far from Forrest’s wishlist!

The Liberal Party has similar policies, outlined here, to create a  National Skills Commission that will “undertake research and analysis of future skills needs and investigate the efficient and fair price of qualifications” and create new “Skills Organisations” that develop training to create skilled people in growth areas. Two of the three initial pilots of Skills Organisations will cover “digital technologies and cyber security.”

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