Guaranteed funding for TAFE is the real solution

The announcement by the NSW Minister for Skills regarding apprenticeship fees is an admission that the marketisation of VET brought in by the Smart and Skilled policy has failed.

The announcement shows the government has little understanding of TAFE NSW. Most apprentices have their TAFE fees paid by the employer, so this is more money going into the hands of businesses, not assistance to students who are struggling to get in to the workforce.

TAFE could be providing more pre-apprenticeship programs to assist people to join the workforce if funding had not been cut since 2015 by the NSW Government.

Singling out one group of TAFE courses is not the answer. The experiment with contestable funding, which has delivered massive handouts to shoddy private ‘for-profit’ companies, must be addressed in a systematic way.

This government must guarantee a minimum of 70 per cent government funding directly to TAFE, restore TAFE funding at least back to 2012 levels and reinvest in the TAFE teaching workforce.

Minister Barilaro acknowledges an up-front fee of $2000 acts as an impediment to students enrolling in TAFE courses, yet this announcement ignores the barrier of even higher up-front fees imposed on non-apprenticeship courses such as child care, aged care and hospitality.

The campaign to secure guaranteed funding for TAFE remains a
priority for the Federation.