Skillset welcomes plan to scrap TAFE apprentice fees

Craig Randazzo, the CEO of Bathurst-based training provider Skillset.
Craig Randazzo, the CEO of Bathurst-based training provider Skillset.

A NSW Government policy to scrap TAFE fees for 100,000 apprentices is a game-changer, according to the CEO of Bathurst-based Skillset.

The organisation, which is the largest employer of apprentices and trainees in regional NSW, has offices throughout the Central West, but has its headquarters in the Mount Panorama precinct.

CEO Craig Randazzo said the NSW Government’s announcement that it would spend $285 million on paying the fees for 100,000 apprentices, saving them about $2000 per course, would help address the skills shortage being felt across the country.

“We work closely with apprentices and businesses and have identified that the cost of placing an apprentice can be a barrier,” he said.

“This announcement is important to encourage more local businesses to take on apprentices, but to also encourage young people to embark on vocational education and training [VET].”

Skillset matches apprentices and trainees to workplaces, as well as providing support through the apprenticeship process.

“This announcement makes the option of VET even more attractive to high school leavers, and will help to break the notion that VET education is second to university as an option for further education,” Skillset Workforce senior manager Jane McWilliam said.

“Statistics show that pursuing an apprenticeship allows for greater job prospects with 79 per cent of apprentices securing employment at the end of their training as opposed to less than 65 per cent for university graduates.

“And now those who choose an apprenticeship through VET will not only get paid to study, but won’t have to pay for their course delivery, as opposed to getting a HECS debt through the university sector.”

The fee-free apprenticeships are only for new students who are about to enrol, or students who are currently studying and decide to change courses.

The policy will come into effect on July 1, 2018.

Deputy Premier John Barilaro says the fee-free courses will not be restricted to particular trades.​