Labor says it will fund up to 20,000 additional university places in 2022 and 2023, and provide access to 465,000 free places for Tafe in designated areas of skills shortage, if Anthony Albanese wins the next federal election.
The new skills and higher education pledges, worth $ 1.2 billion, will be unveiled by the Labor leader at a campaign-style rally in Sydney on Sunday. The Tafe initiative will cost $ 621 million compared to forecast estimates, and the university’s commitment will cost $ 481.7 million.
With the Federal Parliament now closed for the year and elections looming in the first half of next year, Labor has gone into campaign mode.
Sunday’s skill set is the second major announcement in Labor Party electoral policies in two days. Labor unveiled its new climate change policy on Friday, which includes a 2030 emissions reduction target of 43% and a commitment to increase the share of renewables in the national electricity market to 82%.
Labor say providing free places to Tafe in targeted areas will help rebuild industries hardest hit by the pandemic, such as hospitality and tourism, as well as meet current and future needs of the economy care, including jobs in child care, elder care, disability care, nursing and community service.
The funding will provide more than 465,000 free places at Tafe, including 45,000 new places. The package also includes a $ 50 million technology fund to improve computer facilities, workshops, laboratories and telehealth simulators.
Labor will aim to prioritize new funding for universities that are able to offer additional courses in national priority areas, such as clean energy, advanced manufacturing, health and education, or where there are skills shortages.
The opposition says funding for additional university places will help the higher education sector recover from the pandemic.
Universities did not have access to the wage subsidy jobkeeper, and the border closure meant that institutions were losing income for international students. Universities are estimated to have lost a total of 35,000 employees during the pandemic after government decisions effectively excluded them from the wage subsidy scheme.
Policy documents released ahead of Sunday’s rally say universities will receive funding over six years from 2021 to 222 for the 20,000 additional university places starting between 2022 and 2023 in national priority areas.
Additional funding will be allocated to universities based on the ability of institutions to provide additional places in national priority areas and skills shortage; their programs to recruit under-represented groups “such as those who are the first in their families to attend university, and people from regions, remote and suburban areas, and First Nations people”; and student demand.
In a statement released ahead of the rally, Albanese said the skills and higher education program will address some of the cuts to vocational training and apprenticeship.
“Today we have 85,000 fewer apprenticeships and internships compared to 2013,” said the Labor leader. “At the same time, it is becoming more and more difficult and expensive to go to university.”
Albanese said the proportion of applicants who receive an offer of university places “has declined every year since the Liberal government cut funding to universities – this year the offer rate has fallen to its lowest level. For years”.
“This happened in the face of the harsh economic reality that nine out of ten jobs of the future will require a VET or university degree.”
Albanese said intervention was needed as one in four businesses are experiencing skills shortages and “at the same time there are two million Australians looking for jobs or wanting to work longer hours.”
The Labor Party’s announcement follows a separate Morrison government commitment to higher education.
Under the proposal, unveiled by the Prime Minister during a speech to business leaders at the end of last month, four “pioneer” universities would receive additional funding of more than $ 200 million for research centers to to advance Australian manufacturing.