The Guardian News asked the five candidates who are standing for the seat of Oxley in the March 23 NSW election how they would approach fixing the youth unemployment crisis in the area:
Arthur Bain, The Greens:
"The Greens see TAFE as the Number One provider of tertiary education. We would undo the changes that have been wrought on TAFE by previous governments.
"We would set up inclusive employment programs in environmental repair and the building and construction of affordable housing.
"These programs would be open to youth, indigenous unemployed and long-term unemployed."
Susan Jenvey, Country Labor:
Youth unemployment has reached crisis proportions and is now an emergency. It has happened for two reasons. First, there hasn’t been enough focus on bringing new opportunities to the area and replacing what we’re losing. Second, the infrastructure pipeline has not been kept alive in the area.
Labor has announced a two-pronged strategy to change this situation.
Education - Opportunities in life start with a good school education. Labor will restore funding for schools to 100 per cent of what was recommended in the original Gonski report. We will also dramatically revitalise TAFE, offering 600,000 free TAFE places to give youth the skills they need and to address skills shortages.
We will provide more university places for people in regional areas. This will be of great benefit with big campuses in Port Macquarie, Coffs Harbour and Newcastle. Not only will we do the big things, we will also do the personal things, like putting more resources into career guidance and counselling.
New local business - We need to consolidate the industries we have, like services, agriculture and tourism. We need to attract a decentralised remote-workers from the capital cities to our area with the lure of lifestyle and affordable housing.
Government needs to be pushed to bring jobs to our area, and those jobs need to be ones of the future – such as organic food, renewable energy and renewable and sustainable timber resources.
We are perfectly positioned to provide these jobs of the future. This emergency is not going to be solved by simply talking about it - we are offering vision and leadership.
Dean Saul, Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party:
"The first step is to find industry partners with a shared vision and goal as local schools.
In particular there needs to be a focus on growth industries in the area who have a big responsibility to train the next generation of workers.
"These students need to understand the industry and be provided with the skills to succeed in a particular field. Otherwise when those people in the local industries are done, there won’t be anyone to take over."
Melinda Pavey, The Nationals (sitting member):
Our young people are first-priority for a prosperous regional NSW. Correcting youth unemployment is about providing realistic and lasting opportunities.
It pains me that some young people leave our towns to seek city work. We must, and can, do better.
The best policies provide job opportunities and help young job seekers with training and local work experience.
· For the jobs, the Nationals are investing in an array of small, medium and large-scale infrastructure projects
· For the training, the Nationals are building new TAFE’s across NSW - including a new TAFE at Nambucca Heads
Further, the Nationals will deliver 70,000 new fee-free courses for young job-seekers taking on traineeships, as well as appointing a Minister for Regional Youth.
The responsibilities of this person will include
- Delivering NSW’s first Regional Youth Strategy targeting unemployment, alcohol and drugs, and mental health
- Establishing a new Regional Youth Taskforce to drive meaningful change for young people
- Establishing the new Office of Regional Youth, within the Department of Premier and Cabinet
- $50 million will be allocated to support local youth centres, hubs and sport clubs.
Debbie Smythe, Sustainable Australia:
"We will be looking to support small business by examining the regulations and legislation governing them.
"In many cases there are fewer jobs available because owners are frightened of hiring. We believe regulations, while well-intentioned, need to be simplified.
"I think there needs to be more emphasis for on the job training - we are going to look at more incentives for on-the-job training.
"Not everyone is suited to academia, some train better on the job.
"I also think regional TAFEs and universities need to diversify the available courses. There are too many health and community-based courses, forcing those with other interests to leave the area to study. "