Labor risks failing to meet the huge demand for skilled workers in the building and construction industry by counting on TAFE-based education to do the trick, with detrimental effects for Australians whose demand for housing and infrastructure is increasing rapidly.

“As Victoria’s leading voice for the building and construction industry, we applaud any government backing for training and quality outcomes in building and construction, but we do wonder why Labor’s support for such an important resource seems to focus only on TAFE,” Rebecca Casson, CEO of Master Builders Victoria, said.

“We hope that Mr Shorten’s and Ms Plibersek’s announcement of $200 million for TAFE doesn’t indicate that a government led by him would exclude support for not-for-profit industry RTOs such as ours, which has a proven track record for training and delivering the most relevant skills and graduation rates,” Ms Casson said.

“If Labor’s goal is to satisfy current and future demands for a strong Australian workforce, it doesn’t make sense to ignore the training avenues that provide the skills most in demand and relevant to Australians’ needs.”

“Feeding the appetite for skilled workers in building and construction means cultivating the next generations of apprentices,” Ms Casson said. “And there has never been a better time to pursue a career in our sector.”

“It‘s not just a matter of having the numbers of apprentices Australia needs, it’s about training them with the right skills for long and rewarding careers.”

Master Builders Victoria’s award-winning Building Leadership Simulation Centre (BLSC) in South Melbourne is one of only three similar training centres in the world and is delivering the industry’s most realistic, state-of-the-art and immersive training.

Ms Casson said the $14 million BLSC offered technological resources, worksite sheds, highly trained actors and advisors, and behaviour analysis and had been purpose-built to train not just apprentices, but the rank-and-file people working across all levels of the building industry.

“We are rightly proud that our existing simulation centre is unparalleled in our region of the world,” she said.

Ms Casson said she was concerned that Mr Shorten’s announced position would highlight an alarming disconnect between the government and the industry that is the largest full-time employer in Victoria.