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Pledge to boost skills, create jobs in the Hunter


A Labor government will establish a TAFE Domestic Manufacturing Centre of Excellence in the Hunter to boost skills and create jobs.

The party is set to commit $42.7 million towards upgrading and fitting out three facilities throughout the state – in this region, as well as the Illawarra and Western Sydney – if it wins the upcoming NSW Election on 25 March.

The proposal caters for about 1,000 students a year, offering courses such as mechanical engineering and electrical fitting for free.  

The Domestic Manufacturing Centre of Excellence will be able to train, re-train and upskill more than 300 local apprentices and workers in traditional and advanced manufacturing techniques and technologies annually.

Labor leader Chris Minns said the pledge was a key part of their plan to rebuild TAFE, while boosting the domestic trade industry, to resolve the state-wide skills crisis. 

“I want to build trains, buses and ferries here in the Hunter,” he explained.

“But, it will take a government with the political will to do – and I am determined to.

“The Hunter has missed out on the skills, the jobs and the work because this government was obsessed with offshoring transport projects.

“Under Labor, we’ll skill up our people, begin a pipeline of work and get NSW building things again.”

Hunter MPs Tim Crakanthorp (Newcastle), Yasmin Catley (Swansea), Sonia Hornery (Wallsend) and Jodie Harrison (Charlestown) enthusiastically welcomed the announcement on Monday 27 February.

“TAFE has a proud history and trained generations of skilled workers,” said Mr Crakanthorp, the NSW Shadow Minister for TAFE and Skills.

“However, it has been decimated by this [Liberal] government.

“Under Labor, TAFE will thrive and train the next generation so NSW can build great things right here, just like we used to.” 

Ms Catley, the Shadow Minister for the Hunter, agreed, stating thousands of manufacturing jobs had been shipped overseas. 

“Jobs from regions like ours have been the backbone of our local manufacturing for decades,” she said.

“Under Labor, this will end.

“We’ll rebuild our local manufacturing industry and bring jobs back to the Hunter.” 

Ms Hornery said it was an important step for the region.

“We have the policies to ensure our young school leavers can become apprentices building the transport assets of the future and building careers for themselves into the future,” she explained.

“It is vital that we farewell the era of sending domestic manufacturing overseas.

“We should be building things here and creating jobs in NSW for NSW.”

Ms Harrison agreed, explaining “we can, and do, make rolling stock here in the Hunter”.

“We need to better support people who want to be part of the changing economy of the Hunter,” she said.

“This policy will do that.

“Many of my family members achieved their trade qualifications at TAFE.

“So, we must ensure TAFE is the leading vocational education provider it can be.

“That’s why I’m so excited about this commitment.”

NSW Labor will build things in the Hunter

Labor has already announced it will build new trains in NSW and begin the procurement process for the next set of trains to replace the ageing Tangara fleet in its first term. 

“Today, we’re announcing that building the next set of trains in NSW will create 1,000 long-term jobs, including 200 apprenticeships, during the design and build phase and many more in maintenance for the life of the trains,” Mr Minns said.

“Those apprentices will be trained through one of the Domestic Manufacturing Centres of Excellence. 

“Replacing the Tangaras will begin a long-term pipeline of manufacturing work and form the basis for the return of a sustainable rail manufacturing industry in NSW.

“NSW deserves a government that backs Australian-made and will buy Australian-made.

“And, while we can’t rebuild an entire sector overnight, we must start somewhere.”

A fresh start for domestic manufacturing and TAFE 

“After 12 years of Dominic Perrottet and the Liberals, there is a clear choice at the next election,” Mr Minns said.

“More offshoring of skills and thousands of jobs overseas, bungled and broken transport infrastructure. 

“Or, people can enjoy a fresh start for domestic manufacturing in NSW, as we’ll back building trains, ferries and buses right here.”

Labor has already announced: 

  • A target of 50% minimum local content for future transport rolling stock contracts; 
  • Increased tender weightings for local content, jobs creation, small business and ethical supply chains to 30%; 
  • A NSW Jobs First Commission – an independent, expert body – to oversee the implementation and growth of local industries. Its first job will be to audit our current domestic manufacturing capabilities; 
  • A guarantee of a minimum of 70% of total skills funding goes to TAFE; 
  • A comprehensive review of the vocational education system; and 
  • Working collaboratively with industry to make the state government’s pipeline as easy as possible for local suppliers. 

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