NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and key members of the state government have visited Southern Cross Catholic Vocational College Burwood (SCCVC), where they unveiled a $285 million plan to offer young people free apprenticeships.
The Premier, along with Deputy Premier John Barilaro and NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet, toured the college’s construction and automotive learning spaces before addressing the waiting press about the government’s plans to waive fees for up to 100,000 new apprentices from 1 July.
The offer covers all courses, whether delivered by TAFE or other approved providers, and was designed to ensure young people can meet the needs of businesses seeking skilled staff.
The Deputy Premier, who began his career as a carpenter, said SCCVC was singled out as the site of the announcement because it reflected best practice in the VET training space.
“This college is one of the leading colleges in Sydney if not in the nation,” he said.
“For years, for decades, politicians, leaders, even mum and dad in a way have been talking down vocational training pathways.”
“[But I] did a trade and am now Deputy Premier.”
The Premier emphasised that though 60,000 apprentices are currently working across NSW, more are needed to continue to grow our economy.
She spoke with SCCVC Principal Patrick O’Reilly and senior students during her visit, and praised the work ethic of the college’s young people.
“Not only are they learning a trade, many of them aspire to be their own bosses, to have their own businesses, to contribute to society,” she said.
I did a trade and am now Deputy Premier
The government’s free apprenticeship offer means students at SCCVC will be able to commence an apprenticeship, continue a school-based apprenticeship, or convert a school-based traineeship into an apprenticeship for free as soon as they leave school.
Mr O’Reilly said the announcement was a meaningful recognition of the importance of vocational education.
“Every economy requires people to engage across the many spheres of life, and value each one,” he said.
“Today’s announcement helps to level the playing field of opportunity.”
Sydney Catholic Schools established SCCVC using federal trade grants awarded to 11 different colleges, creating a well-resourced hub for vocationally-minded students.
Senior members of the SCS team attended the announcement, including Director of Teaching and Learning Genevieve Moss.