Mr MELHEM (Western Metropolitan): Last week I accompanied the Premier, Daniel Andrews; the Minister for Roads and Road Safety, Luke Donnellan; and the Assembly member for St Albans, Natalie Suleyman, to the announcement of the new TAFE partnership with Victoria University Polytechnic. This investment will train and skill hundreds of workers so that they are able to take on some of the 6000 new jobs created through the West Gate tunnel project, 500 of which are dedicated to apprentices and trainees. This partnership will see Victoria University Polytechnic offer civil construction certificates II, III and IV courses. It will also mean the reopening of the Victoria University Werribee East campus as a specialised civil construction TAFE to accommodate the additional courses provided. This is a perfect example of local training providers and local workers in my electorate of Western Metropolitan Region benefiting from our record investment in roads and rail infrastructure.

This also highlights this government’s commitment in its latest budget to revitalising our TAFE system. This is all part of the government’s massive $800 million commitment to TAFE, which includes added support for vulnerable and disadvantaged students, and social welfare programs as well as a commitment to ensuring high standards among our TAFE providers. Unlike those opposite, we believe a healthy TAFE system is vital to our education mix. When those opposite were in power we saw funding for our public TAFE system slashed by a third. This led to job losses, course closures, a decrease in quality and a skills shortage. We cannot do that again.

I want to congratulate the Andrews Labor government for its commitment to skilling apprentices and trainees and making sure that on major jobs now it is mandated that 10 per cent of the workforce have to be trainees and apprentices.

22 May 2018