From preschool to apprenticeships, the Liberal-National Government understands how valuable education is for people of all ages in NSW. Equal opportunity and access for everyone in NSW is a priority, regardless of where they live or their financial circumstances.
Since 2011, the Liberal-National Government has delivered 69 new or upgraded schools in NSW and over 5,100 additional teachers. Over the next four years, $6.7 billion will be invested to deliver more than 190 new and upgrade schools that will be enjoyed by the NSW children today, and in generations to come. In addition, a record $1.3 billion is being spent on school maintenance in public education.
The Government recognises the importance of quality preschool education. $197.8 million over the next four years will be invested into the Start Strong Program, allowing NSW families to have access to preschool facilities for their 3-year-olds. We are the first State Government in Australia to take this initiative, providing accessibility and equal opportunity for all NSW preschool aged children.
With NSW training 30% of the nation's apprentices and trainees, apprenticeships are a growing par tof the education system. That is why $285.2 million is invested over the next six years will fund fee-free apprenticeships. Removing the financial barrier aims to decrease the amount of people who refrain from applying due to financial stress. As a result of the fee removal, there will be a greater influx of applicants who will address the skill shortage across construction, hospitality, and automotive repair.
The NSW Government-funded enrolments of VET students has increased from 399,900 in 2017 to 407,600 in 2018, and has seen a sharp increase in government-funded Certificate IV enrolments.
The Liberal-National Government has invested $23 million to provide digital learning resources to every public-school student across NSW. The new STEMShare program provides students with access to robotics, 3D printing, coding, film-making, and virtual and augmented reality technology. All of these technologies are vital for the development and study of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects.
A record Government investment will see $500 million deliver air-conditioning in up to 1000 public schools in NSW. This is something that parents and school communities have called for and the Liberal-National Government that can deliver this, thanks to our strong economic management.