The AMWU has vowed to oppose any increases in fees for apprentices, including the imposition of an income contingent loans scheme on students.
AMWU National Secretary, Dave Oliver said that the Victorian Government’s proposal would make the skills shortage worse.
“Increasing fees is no way to encourage young people to take up the key trades, which we desperately need.
“TAFE fees are an unfair burden on apprentices who already earn reduced wages while they work during their apprenticeship. Adding to that burden is not only unfair, it is counter-productive to the aim of increasing enrolment in apprenticeships.
“Suggestions that simply increasing TAFE fees will equate trades qualifications with university study are disingenuous.
“TAFE qualifications currently offer many advantages that university does not, one of which is not being saddled with tens of thousands of dollars of debt.
“If extra funding is needed for TAFE, the level of employer contribution to vocational education is the issue that needs to be addressed.
The proposal to increase fees also received condemnation from the AMWU’s National Skilled Trades Committee, a body of working tradesmen and women, which met in Melbourne this week.
Skilled Trades Committee Chair, Charlie Clarke, said that the proposal to increase the number of private companies selling vocational education would only further reduce the quality of education and training, and increase the vulnerability of apprentices to exploitation by companies whose primary concern was to make money, not provide training.