By Luke Voogt
A $1.9 million pilot course to train 120 cadets in civil construction commenced at East Geelong this week.
Geelong MP Christine Couzens launched the program at The Gordon Institute of TAFE East Campus on Thursday.
“The Gordon’s Civil Skills Cadetship Program is yet another example of the work we’re doing to strengthen partnerships between industry and training, both in Geelong and around the state,” she said.
Industry mentors will support students through three work placements on infrastructure projects as they study for their Certificate III in Civil Construction through the program.
Cadets will also have the opportunity to undertake a civil construction apprenticeship through the program.
Civil Contractors Federation and The Gordon developed the course, which includes occupational health and safety and skills training.
Certificate III in Civil Construction is one of 30 priority TAFE courses and 18 pre-apprenticeships which will be free in Victoria to eligible students from 2019.
State Government recently announced $172 million in the 2018/2019 budget to make the courses free, along with $303.8 million to create more than 30,000 training places.
The announcements came as new data on Tuesday revealed government-funded Vocational Education and Training student numbers dropped 31.7 per cent from 2014 to 2017.
National Centre for Vocational Education Research data showed a decline from 460,500 to 314,000 students that shadow training minister Steph Ryan blamed on the government.
“Daniel Andrews promised a training rescue but he’s delivered a crisis,” she said.
“On Labor’s watch Victoria has lost its crown as the nation’s largest training provider to NSW.”
A report from Productivity Commission revealed Labor under-spent the student training budget in 2016 by $502 million, Ms Ryan said.
“Victoria is missing out on hundreds of millions of dollars for training from the Commonwealth because Labor just wants to play politics,” she added.
The soon-to-be free courses would be open to interstate students at “the expense” of Victorian students, Ms Ryan told SBS.
“(The government is attempting) to beef up student numbers by offering free training to people from overseas and interstate,“ she said.
“This money should be invested to benefit Victorian workers and Victorian jobs.“
But Minister for Training and Skills Gayle Tierney attributed the fall in students from 2014 to 2017 to the previous government.
“After years of devastating cuts by the previous Liberal government we’re making the investments needed to give Victorians the opportunity to access industry-relevant training that leads to a job,“ she said.
State Government in May agreed to 2.5 per cent yearly wage annual increase for TAFE teachers.