FEE BID: Trent Gilbert
FEE BID: Trent Gilbert Jeremy Phillips

Fee-free TAFE for some

STUDYING aged care at TAFE would be free under a Labor party plan to remove enrolment fees for a variety of courses which it says were suffering from a skills shortage.

The plan ensures students studying certain certificate-level courses in aged care, disability care, child care, construction, plumbing and electrical trades would would not have to pay fees.

"The courses that we have identified are the sort of entry- level and mid-level courses that people want to get into but cost has been a factor,” said state Labor candidate for Clarence, Trent Gilbert.

"There is nothing wrong with making those particular courses free because clearly we have massive skills shortages in those areas,” Mr Gilbert said.

"If you look at the aged care need across the North Coast we are going to have more people requiring aged care services in the next five, 10 and 20 years.”

On her first dayof studying a Certificate III in Individual Support (Ageing), Grafton TAFE student Sharon said the proposed plan would make a big difference.

"It's going to cost me around $2000 for the course,” she said.

"I have had to struggle to come up with the money but they have allowed me to pay it off in instalments.”

Clarence Village CEO Duncan McKimm said while education costs played a part in choosing a career path, it was one of many factors.

"Clarence Village does experience some difficulty in attracting qualified and skilled staff, from personal carers to registered nurses, due to a number of factors, including location in a regional area, skills shortages and funding constraints,” Mr McKimm said.

"While the cost of training would have been a consideration, the desire to provide good quality care for residents is the greatest motivator for them to be in the industry long-term.

"We welcome any policies that encourage people to see aged care as a valuable career path.

"However the most acute shortages we currently experience are in nursing staff, which this policy wouldn't address.”