Over the last three years since I have been given the opportunity to represent our region as your federal member a key issue that constantly arises is the lack of skilled workers to match industry needs.

Similarly business regularly discusses with me the disconnect that exists between school, the vocational sector, university, job providers and the workforce.

I do welcome the work the University of Tasmania Cradle Coast Campus, University College is now undertaking by offering associate degrees, a university preparation program, diploma of university studies and short courses to our community.

The University College is creating new pathways for people to further their skills that ultimately will lead to the creation of more innovative and viable local businesses.

However the decline of a government funded vocational education provider in TAFE has created real issues for the region.

At a time when industry is crying out for skilled workers Braddon has lost almost 700 apprentices in the last five years, depriving our workforce of skilled labour and our young people trades-based futures.

Nationally under the Liberals, there are 140,000 fewer apprenticeships, student enrolments in TAFE have plummeted by 24.5 per cent and $24 million has been wasted on the now abandoned apprenticeship IT system.

Something needs to be done and rebuilding TAFE to be the leading provider of a vocational education is an absolute priority for Labor. I acknowledge the work of local industry based training providers, but Labor believes there is a crucial role for government to lead the vocational sector. Labor will renovate public TAFE campuses around the country, waive the upfront fees for 100,000 TAFE places, provide 10,000 pre-apprentice programs for young people who want to learn a trade and 20,000 adult apprentice programs for older workers who want or need to retrain.  

Rebuilding TAFE and boosting apprenticeships is just one piece of the jigsaw.  Labor will continue to develop other policies to support business and those looking for work.

With the support of business, Labor has commenced a discussion around the requirement of Jobactive participants to apply for up to 20 jobs per month.

It appears to be nothing more than a box ticking exercise and is a burden on business and job seekers alike.

For people living in regional communities with limited or no transport it becomes an almost impossible exercise in futility.

Supporting our local university, rebuilding TAFE, boosting apprenticeships and easing a bureaucratice burden on business and job seekers goes some way to addressing the concerns of local business when it comes to the future workforce.

Justine Keay MP

Justine Keay is the Federal Member for Braddon