Opposition Leader Mark McGowan introduced a Parliamentary motion to condemn the changes to Tafe courses, which will increase some fees by more than 500 per cent by 2017.
Mr McGowan said enrolled nursing, for example, would increase from $1862 to more than $8000 by 2017.
Certificate IVs in Disability, Certificate IIIs in Aged Care and Certificate IIIs in Acute Care, all of which now cost $621, will rise to $4235, $2934 and $2874 respectively.
The rises are part of the biggest-reform to WA’s training system ” at present, the Government funds a fixed number of places, but in future students wanting to study one of 636 priority qualifications will be guaranteed a place.
The Government intends it to be a ‘competitive, market-driven’ but also ‘student-focused’ approach that ensures more people get priority skills.
Mr McGowan said the changes were a ‘cash grab’ and would put skilled training beyond ordinary people’s reach.
‘WA is crying out for workers in these vital industries,’ he said.
Mr Redman said the Government would keep watch to see whether fee rises were affecting demand for courses.
‘I am committed to addressing any issues as they arise, in particular for the most at-risk and disadvantaged,’ he said.
He said the Government covered more than 90 per cent of training costs and would still be covering 80 per cent by 2017.
He said higher priority courses would attract lower fees.
The priority list is based on research suggesting almost half of new jobs opening before 2017 will be in construction, health, social assistance or professional, scientific and technical services.
The Government has also ordered an independent review of the training sector.
Mr Redman said in Parliament that fee rises would let him maintain subsidised positions in WA despite a reduced budget.
Mr McGowan’s motion to condemn was lost.