For the time being, apprentices obtaining their first trade will mostly avoiding huge increases to education and training costs as subsidies for some courses are decreased or eliminated by State Government education reforms.
However the costs of obtaining qualifications are still on the increase and additional trades cost more.
The NSW state Government increased fees across the board by 5.7% in 2014 and 2015 fees for apprentices have been capped at $2000 as part of the Smart and Skilled program, set to be implemented in January 2015. The capped fees see a marginal increase of around a few hundred dollars, according to the NSW Minister for Education, Adrian Piccoli.
Tradies are faring better than students obtaining other qualifications due to the demand for tradesman and their position on the priority skills list, meaning subsidies are mostly being maintained.
“I am releasing the 2015 Skills List which sets out priority areas for training. These qualifications will attract direct government subsidies to make sure training priorities match the needs of the economy,” Piccoli said.
However, NSW Teachers’ Federation TAFE organiser Kathy Nicholson said fees were only capped for 2015.
“TAFE was free up until mid-2000s… God help us at what they might be after 2015,” she said, adding that it was the employer, often small businesses that were absorbing the cost.
She also said that many tradies require “a few strings to their bow”, especially in rural areas.
“For the second course you pay an increasingly large amount and if it’s a third course you pay market rate,” which she said could be tens of thousand of dollars.
Speaking of VET fee help and loans for apprentice tradies she questioned the methodology.
“Why would we burden out young people with debt, they already struggle nowadays.”