UNEMPLOYED Gold Coasters living on Centrelink payments are finding it difficult to up-skill because they are being forced to pay introductory course fees upfront, Member for Gaven Doctor Alex Douglas MP said on Wednesday
“There are an increasing number of jobless people wanting to up-skill at TAFE but paying courses upfront makes it impossible for many to consider further study,” he said.
“A local resident who has been unemployed for four years, and like many unemployed people wants to work, told me he can’t afford to pay upfront fees for two introductory subjects for a diploma course being offered online at Gold Coast TAFE.
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“This person said he needed an upfront payment of $490, but for a person unemployed and lacking income, this cost prohibited people in his situation to gain the skills to be competitive in a difficult job market.
“It seems an anomaly that the diploma course is covered by Fee Help, but the introductory subjects are not.
“I’ve asked a question on notice in Parliament to Minister for Education, Training and Employment (John-Paul Langbroek) why introductory subjects to a Vet-fee course must be paid upfront because I think this is stopping people from up-skilling.
“It obviously makes it difficult for people who are living from week to week on Centrelink payments with no avenue of saving money for a course.
“Realistically there needs to be assistance for these courses as well, otherwise jobless people will be robbed of any likelihood of improving their skills”.
Doctor Douglas’ question reads “with reference to an increasing number of unemployed people up-skilling through TAFE and keeping in mind many are relying on Centrelink payments to live from week to week?
“Will the Minister explain why introductory subjects to a VET-fee help course at Gold Coast TAFE must be paid upfront whilst the diploma course is covered by Fee Help”?
The Minister has until July 5 to respond. We have contacted the Minister’s Office for comment as well.