State gifts funding at expense of TAFE

The recent roll-out of state-funded programs in the motor vehicle trades underlines the NSW Coalition Government’s preference for business-driven vocational training over the public TAFE system.

The Motor Traders’ Association of NSW’s plan to provide state government-funded “hands on” training for high school students, with “the potential for work placement and apprenticeships”, further demonstrates the government’s push to devalue TAFE and put business at the forefront of the vocational education and training sector, Federation Deputy Secretary (Post Schools) Maxine Sharkey said.

According to the Motor Traders’ Association of NSW’s media release, the Start with an Automotive Trade program aims “to connect high school students, via their careers advisers, and local employers to participate in ‘hands on’ training sessions delivered by MTA NSW trainers, with potential for work placement and apprenticeships within metropolitan and regional communities”.

“Since being in government, the federal Coalition has already overseen $3 billion cut from vocational education and training and a dramatic drop of 140,000 fewer places for apprentices,” Ms Sharkey said.

“We now have a situation in NSW emerging where large employer groups such as the MTA are gifted public money at the expense of our TAFE system. Despite the clear and undisputed benefits that a fully funded, high-quality public TAFE sector provides our economy and our society, there has been a concerted and continual drive from governments to marginalise vocational education and deprioritise TAFE.”

“This is nothing more than government again encouraging and bankrolling private, organisations to set up in competition to the public TAFE system,” Ms Sharkey said.

“We have a public institution with nationally accredited programs, a highly qualified and experienced workforce of professional teachers yet we have a state and federal government obsessed with privatisation policies that have resulted in training being continually removed from public provision. These initiatives are why we have seen 35 per cent of TAFE teachers lose their jobs and have their campuses closed down.”

In reflecting on NSW Minister for Skills and Tertiary Education, Geoff Lee’s appearance before NSW Budget Estimates inquiry, Federation TAFE Organiser Rob Long said it was unfortunate NSW had experienced four Ministers in an eight year period. “Budget Estimates again highlighted the ignorance of the Minister to the critical questions facing TAFE students, teachers, staff and local communities,” he said.

“Federation will continue to campaign for high quality TAFE education for all students across NSW, with guaranteed funding.” Mr Long concluded.

Update: A previous version of this story contained a reference to the Deputy Premier opening the training centre of another provider. The reference was initially included to further highlight Government support for private providers over our public TAFE. It was removed to avoid confusion because this article covers state funding and the centre referenced was not funded by the state government.