Deputy Leader of the Opposition and the Shadow Minister for Education and Training
Education transform lives. It builds societies and economies.
The reality is that in Australia today, educational opportunity remains uneven. Too many people miss out on education and too many Australians have literacy and numeracy problems that make them vulnerable to underemployment and social exclusion.
I want to change this.
A Shorten Labor Government will break down the barriers that prevent so many Australians from getting the quality education they need.
Of course this starts with parents as their child’s first educators, with a greater focus on the first 1,000 days. That is why I was so proud to have recently announced $5 million in funding for the new Centre for Strong Foundations – a new world-class research and maternal health hub at Griffith University focussing on supporting families with pregnancy, birth and the first two years of a child’s life.
Labor will support young learners by extending universal access to pre-school education to three and four year olds, as well as fully delivering a needs-based funding system in Australia’s schools.
With nine out of 10 jobs in coming years requiring a post-secondary qualification, more must be done to ensure Australians have greater access to high quality TAFEs, universities and apprenticeships.
That’s why Labor is committed to a major funding boost for both TAFE and universities, and equity programs to ensure post-secondary education is available to a broader group of Australians.
And of course, our education system must continue to have a strong, high quality adult and community education sector if we are to ensure no one gets left behind.
Everywhere I go people talk to me about the rapid change happening in our communities and workplaces – with jobs being destroyed because of disruptions like automation, globalisation and artificial intelligence, and new jobs being created that we couldn’t have imagined just a few years ago.
During this time of change, I want to ensure a just transition for Australians by making sure everyone can get access to quality education they need throughout their lives.
Labor has a vision for a stronger, fairer and fit-for-purpose post-secondary education system that meets the needs of our society and economy while helping to deliver fairness, address inequality and ensure equity.
In order to achieve our vision, we must reverse the slow decline that has characterised vocational education and training and adult and community education over the past few years.
We will secure funding for vocational education and ensure that at least two thirds of public funding for training will go to TAFE with the remaining one third of funding going to high quality, not-for-profit community providers.
We will waive upfront fees for 100,000 students to attend TAFE, and invest $100 million to modernise TAFE facilities around the country.
And we will provide 10,000 pre-apprenticeships for people who want to learn a trade and 20,000 adult apprenticeships for workers who want or need to retrain.
But we’re also focussed on the how to ensure the post-secondary education system is best able to deal with our future needs.
Earlier this year, Doug Cameron and I announced that in the first 100 days of a Shorten Labor Government we will establish a once-in-a-generation national inquiry into post-secondary education in Australia.
This inquiry will be independent and comprehensive.
We see adult and community education as central this Inquiry as we know that we won’t be able to deliver it without your expertise, practice and community connection.
I believe that if we work together to build a stronger education system, we will be able to meet the opportunities and challenges of the future so that no Australian is left behind.
I look forward to seeing the strong and positive role adult and community learning will continue to play in that process.