Securing a future for Tasmania’s youth

By Josh Willie – Labor Member for Elwick

VOCATIONAL and skills training in Tasmania is in urgent need of refocus and reinvestment seeing that as a state, we have no comprehensive strategic plan for skills and training in the future.

While employment opportunities in some sectors are either falling or stagnant, some sectors are faced with a critical need for trained workers.

During the coming months, these sectors will offer Tasmanians quality, well-paid employment opportunities.

Governments have a responsibility to respond to their challenges, to work with industry sectors, trade unions and vocational training bodies to develop a planned, quality, properly resourced training system to meet the challenges of the future.

In the northern suburbs, we have many businesses and not-for-profit organisations that are relying on skilled young people to join their ranks over the coming years.

Industries such as building and construction, health, disability, aged care, agriculture, advanced manufacturing, hairdressing, tourism and hospitality are all desperate to recruit and keep skilled Tasmanians.

An apprenticeship with the combination of employment, work integrated learning and formal skill and knowledge development is undoubtedly a very sound model for producing skilled workers, but regrettably not enough of these opportunities are being made for young people.

That’s why at every opportunity, I have made Tasmania’s latest generation of school leavers aware of the new student loan scheme.

The VET Student Loan Scheme includes three bands of loan caps of $5,000, $10,000 and $15,000.

It became available this year, but Tasmanian teenagers may not have been informed of their eligibility.

There’s a new generation of Tasmanian teenagers who left the compulsory education system at the end of last year and are now considering their futures.

Others may have even disengaged from the education system or found secure employment difficult to find.

There are significant loans available to study TAFE and University of Tasmania courses – courses that lead to meaningful jobs and careers, and very few know about it.

This is particularly concerning, as I see youth unemployment and jobs for school leavers as a priority.

In a state where youth unemployment hovers at 15.3 per cent – three per cent higher than the national average, every young person who is eligible for this scheme should be made aware of it.

Our political leaders need to be champions for our next generation of young people who have completed their high school educations and are now looking for a career path.

Governments should be supporting young people who may be directionless and considering their decision to enrol in further education.

The VET scheme gives teenagers access to training and courses that will lead to real jobs and career paths in such areas as building and construction, health, disability and aged care, agriculture, advanced manufacturing, hairdressing and tourism and hospitality.

This means that as elected representatives, politicians of all persuasions must work on policies to enhance TAFE as a vital player in growing the state’s economy.