LABOR candidates in the state seats of Dubbo and Bathurst say their party's promise of free TAFE education will change lives and stop people moving away from the bush.
Labor says it will pay for TAFE students' education in some courses if it is elected to government in NSW on March 23 - a decision that could save thousands of dollars in fees.
For instance, students currently pay up to $7260 for a full-time certificate III course in early childcare at a TAFE institute.
"The Daley Labor Government will make TAFE free for more than 600,000 certificate level places in skill shortage courses over the next decade, starting with childcare, disability care, aged care, construction, plumbing, and electrical trades," Labor said in a statement.
Labor candidate for Dubbo Stephen Lawrence said his party's commitment to free TAFE will change lives.
“Free TAFE is the ultimate jobs plan," he said.
"It will deliver the skilled workforce of the future and revitalise the vocational education system after eight years of neglect by the Liberals and Nationals.”
Labor is expecting more residents will enrol for free TAFE courses and it will bridge the skill-shortage gaps in regional areas.
It will deliver the skilled workforce of the future and revitalise the vocational education system after eight years of neglect by the Liberals and NationalsStephen Lawrence
The Regional Australia Institute is predicting 243,865 new jobs over the next three years in regional Australia.
Ron Maxwell, CEO of employment and training organisation VERTO, says his organisation supports government subsidies in areas of skills shortage.
"This will absolutely benefit the Central West and we encourage any additional investment that makes training and education more accessible in regional areas," Mr Maxwell said.
Mr Maxwell said industries such as childcare, aged care, disability care and trades such as electrical and plumbing are faced with skills shortages in the region.
"It's worth noting that this is a national problem and for many sectors this is becoming a larger issue as our population grows and so does the demand for services, particularly in regional Australia."
Labor candidate for Bathurst Beau Riley said the plan for the free TAFE policy is to get people trained for employment in jobs with skills shortages.
With the government continuing to toss up the idea of forced migrants to the bush, this will now give the option for any shortages to be filled by local people firstBeau Riley
"With the government continuing to toss up the idea of forced migrants to the bush, this will now give the option for any shortages to be filled by local people first," he said.
"Having access to free TAFE courses will also give people qualifications to find work in the Central West, stopping them from moving away to larger cities."
Mr Riley said people are telling him that they are not happy working part-time and want to have the security of a good career in their fields.
"Ultimately, the free TAFE policy is designed to get people into long-term, full-time employment," he said.
TAFE is a government-run system that provides education after high school in vocational areas.
It has over 130 locations across the state and offers more than 1200 courses, from online study to diplomas and degrees, training and full-time education.