Skills Training and Apprenticeships

Benalla students at risk from Labor’s VET cuts

15 October 2015

School-based vocational education and training (VET) in Benalla is in jeopardy as a result of funding cuts by the Andrews Labor Government.

Deputy Leader of The Nationals and Shadow Minister for Training, Skills and Apprenticeships Steph Ryan said workplace learning programs in north east Victoria would fold in December because Daniel Andrews had axed funding for workplace learning coordinators.

Workplace learning coordinators assists students undertaking training at local schools, TAFE’s or registered providers to find work placements each year," Ms Ryan said.

"The Centre community college has run the program across the local government areas of Wangaratta, Benalla, Mansfield, Indigo, Alpine, Wodonga and Towong was a huge success over the past five years.

"Across the Wangaratta and Wodonga region, more than 1000 students each year are assisted with work placements that are crucial to their VET studies, work experience and school based apprenticeships. This ensures students are job-ready and connected with local industries that need skilled workers.

"With the program being discontinued at the end of the year, Benalla has already lost its coordinator and the link to connect students with potential work placements is missing."

Ms Ryan said since Labor came to government youth unemployment across the Hume region, which includes Benalla, has risen at an alarming rate of 6.2 per cent to 19.4 per cent.

"Labor’s decision to axe this practical support just doesn’t make sense when young people in our region are finding it so hard to find work," Ms Ryan said.

"Students who are disadvantaged or at risk will fall through the gaps, particularly disengaged students who may not have as much knowledge about employment or an understanding about the pathways open to them.

Ms Ryan said the Liberal-Nationals Government provided $5.1 million a year to employ these coordinators across the state but Daniel Andrews has refused to continue funding for them.

"The reality is that teachers and employers do not have the time or the resources to pick up the extra work of these coordinators," Ms Ryan said.

An independent evaluation carried out for the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development in 2013 found that the total number of work placements had increased by 37 per cent during the first two years of the program.

The report also indicated that the program was well and truly delivering on its expected outputs and contributing to the achievement of medium term goals including improving recruitment strategies for employers, increasing participation of disadvantaged students and increasing the number of students undertaking further training.

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