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Monday, 25 June 2018
Page: 6246

Dr ALY (Cowan) (10:48): Last week, my colleagues and I met with TAFE teachers and students in recognition of TAFE Day last Tuesday, and we heard about the damaging impact of cuts to the TAFE sector by this government. In Western Australia there's been a 22 per cent decline in TAFE traineeships and apprenticeships—that's over 9,000 fewer trainees and apprentices in Western Australia alone. In my electorate of Cowan, there's been a 25 per cent decline. In the last five years, more than $3 billion has been cut from TAFE and training, and Australia now has about 140,000 fewer apprentices today than we did when the Liberals were first elected.

In Cowan, where the largest occupational group is in the trades, this 25 per cent decline cannot be attributed simply to natural attrition, as if somehow the demand for traineeships and apprenticeships has decreased, as the member for Cunningham pointed out in her constituency statement today. In Western Australia, the number of trade apprentices in construction has fallen by 3,600, and automotive and engineering trade apprentices are down by 400. TAFE courses have been cut. Campuses have been closed, and TAFE teachers have lost their jobs. In 2009, TAFE taught around 81 per cent of publicly funded students. But by 2015 that share had declined to 50 per cent. TAFE's market share of publicly funded students has dropped to an all-time low. In 2016, 11 TAFE colleges in Western Australia became just five, with 230 jobs axed under this coalition and the former WA Liberal government.

There are five key trades that are getting cut in Western Australia: car trimming, furniture polishing, floor laying, wood turning and furniture upholstery, which were all previously offered at Polytechnic West. As TAFE will no longer provide training for these crafts, potential apprentices are going to be forced to go to the eastern states. The government's failure to ensure ongoing and critical funding to TAFE has reduced employment opportunities for middle-aged workers, working-class people, particularly women, young people and workers who are seeking to retrain later in life. It has also limited our capacity to meet demand for growing occupations such as disability, aged care and technology-focused sectors. Meanwhile, youth unemployment is rising, skilled migrants are being brought in to do jobs Australians could do, TAFE fees are increasing and course options are falling.