TAFE NSW regional general manager, Kate Baxter, is urging school leavers to take advantage of fee-free training to equip them with the skills they need to secure jobs with local employers who are crying out for qualified employees.
The NSW Business Chamber 2019 Workforce Skills Survey has reported that 61.8 per cent of businesses with skills shortages are unable to recruit suitable staff and that they are carrying more job vacancies in 2019 compared to 2017.
Across Western NSW, nursing, education, electrical, and plant and machinery industry are just some of the industries experiencing ongoing skills shortages.
"TAFE NSW works closely with industry to ensure that we're delivering a pipeline of skilled employees who are equipped with the practical skills and work experience that employers are looking for," Ms Baxter said.
"Considering the range of fee-free training opportunities available, such as the NSW Government Smart and Skilled and Fee-free apprenticeships initiatives, there has never been a better time for school leavers to pursue a career in industries with employment and career progression opportunities."
The Joyce review of vocational education noted this year that stakeholders were concerned that students who would otherwise thrive in VET careers are being directed towards higher education options where they may not succeed.
"While university may be a viable option for some school leavers, it's important that vocational education and training is considered a 'plan A' for school leavers to pursue careers in areas that they are passionate about," Ms Baxter said.
Western NSW Business Chamber regional general manager, Vicki Seacombe, said that local business owners and industry representatives have welcomed the push by TAFE to encourage school leavers - and their influencers - to the range of career opportunities in Western NSW.
"We see first-hand all the fantastic opportunities available to youth to kick-start their careers through vocational education and training and we know there are many local businesses who are eager to employ them, especially into apprenticeships and traineeships," Ms Seacombe said.
"The Chamber has long supported youth employment initiatives in NSW and we encourage any young people finishing school who are confused about the best pathway for them, to jump on Skillsroad.com.au and take the free career quiz."
Ms Baxter has also taken the opportunity to reassure school leavers that, regardless of their ATAR, there are a range of degrees and pathways to higher education available at TAFE.
For more information on the range of semester one courses available at TAFE NSW in 2020, visit www.tafensw.edu.au or phone 131 601.