Shadow Minister for Education and Training, Tanya Plibersek, was on the Coast earlier in November to discuss the impact of the country’s ailing training sector on the availability of trades and jobs.
The Shadow Minister was joined by Federal Member for Dobell, Emma McBride, at Berkeley Vale’s Ausiports Home Improvements on November 18, and together the pair met with business owners, Ray and Leanne Davidson, to discuss the challenges that Ausiports has faced due to the declining number of apprentices and the overall effect that decline was having on employment opportunities on the Central Coast.
Speaking to attending media, Ray Davidson said the current climate had made it difficult for Ausiports to find a suitable apprentice.
“We are a local family owned business that’s been operating for 32 years.
“We employ 25 local people, as well as a number of subcontractors, and the biggest issue that we’ve had is that there is no set trade for what we do.
“There’s are a number of trades that cover it.
“There’s carpentry, there’s roof plumbing, but it’s really a combination of both and not every carpenter can be a good home improvement specialist, or patio installer, and not every roof plumber can do that either, so it’s really hard to actually create our own type of tradesperson that we need,” Davidson said.
Plibersek said the Davidson’s were not alone in their struggle, with thousands of trade reliant small businesses and job hungry Australians left wanting after what she described as the Liberal Government’s mishandling of TAFE.
“Australians are doing it tough.
“It’s hard to find work.
“It’s hard to make ends meet.
“That’s true here on the Central Coast too.
“People want jobs, security and opportunity, for themselves and for their families.
“That’s what Labor would deliver,” Plibersek said.
“Ausiports builds things including patios, carports, sheds, decks and screen doors.
“Ray says he wants to hire young people to expand his business and put them through an apprenticeship, but like three quarters of Australian businesses, he’s really struggling to find qualified workers.
“A big part of the problem is that TAFE doesn’t offer a relevant course to his business.
“It would require a course with a mix of construction, roof plumbing and carpentry.
“Ray estimates that the industry is worth billions to the economy.
“Ray would like to see more government support so that TAFE can offer courses that local businesses need.
“That way people on the Central Coast can get properly trained and take advantage of the local jobs on offer.
“The reason that TAFE is struggling to help businesses like Ausiports is because they’ve been gutted by the federal government.
“Over the last seven years, the Liberals have cut billions from TAFE and training and around 140,000 Australian Apprentices have been lost.
“The Central Coast alone has lost more than 1,200 Australian Apprentices, a drop of over 25 per cent.
“It’s about time the government gave TAFE on the Central Coast the support it deserves,” Plibersek said.
When asked how Labor would tackle the issues identified, Plibersek said that reinvesting in TAFE would be the party’s starting point.
“You can’t keep cutting TAFE.
“We’ve seen more than $3B of cuts in TAFE and training, and the results of that are everywhere to be seen.
“Course closures, campus closures, people who’d love to do a training course but can’t find a place, courses that used to be offered that you can’t do anymore.
“We need to reinvest in TAFE and a strong public TAFE needs to be at the centre of that,” Plibersek said.