TAFE review must restore key funding

Federation will highlight the failed privatisation policies of successive state and federal governments during the NSW Government’s review of the vocational education and training system.

In recent years, TAFE budgets have been slashed, resulting in the loss of thousands of jobs and courses throughout the state.

Student enrolments in TAFE have also decreased by 234,300 between 2012 and 2016 in NSW. The NSW Government ceased reporting student numbers in Budget papers and TAFE’s annual report from 2016.

“The race to introduce private providers has been a disaster for students who now face high fees and fewer opportunities to study the full range of courses at their local TAFE,” Federation President Angelo Gavrielatos said.

“The introduction of an unregulated private sector, chasing profits, has reduced standards in the vocational education sector.

“We have a serious skills shortage for key trades which can only be addressed by reinvesting and reinvigorating TAFE so we can train tradespeople of the future.

“Returning TAFE to being the pre-eminent provider of vocational education and training is integral to the state’s future productivity and prosperity.”

The review, to be led by businessman and University of NSW Chancellor David Gonski and Chancellor of Western Sydney University Professor Peter Shergold, will examine opportunities to resolve skill shortages; integration of secondary, vocational and tertiary learning opportunities; and a HECSstyle fee system.

Mr Gavrielatos said: “The imposition of any fees, upfront or otherwise, is a serious barrier for the poorest and most disadvantaged in our community. TAFE should be free.”

The final report from the review is due by July 2020.