Select courses will be free at Shepparton’s Goulburn Ovens Institute of TAFE following a commitment in this year’s Victorian budget, which will hopefully fill labour shortages locally.
But Opposition training spokesperson and State Member for Euroa Steph Ryan said the announcement was a desperate bid to save face and get students through the doors following a drop in enrolments.
Interstate students can take advantage of free courses, but training sector insiders have warned the funding model could backfire.
The Victorian Government’s 2018-19 budget allocated $172million for almost 50 free TAFE and pre-apprenticeship training courses and another $304million for new classes and 30000 TAFE places.
Treasurer Tim Pallas said the money would help alleviate the state’s skills shortage.
Ms Ryan said students had turned away from Victoria’s training system and added the announcement threatened to decimate adult education providers and leave skilled Victorians out of work.
The Opposition also questioned not limiting course participation to Victorians.
A government statement said the skills required for the high-demand jobs in regional Victoria were increasingly learned at TAFE.
GOTAFE welcomed the announcement, set to open cost-free certificates in agriculture, dairy production, allied health, construction and horticulture from next year.
State Member for Shepparton Suzanna Sheed said the initiative would facilitate courses relevant locally.
Committee for Greater Shepparton chief Sam Birrell believed it presented potential to be ‘‘part of serious vertical integration of education into industry, which is desperately needed’’.
‘‘It’s positive, helps invigorate our TAFE sector, which has been under some financial pressure, gives an opportunity to have impact on our high youth unemployment, and (facilitate) transitioning into jobs that are in need,’’ C4GS chair Rob Priestly said.
— with AAP