JobTrainer must fund TAFE to build recovery

It is essential that the JobTrainer announcement of a combined $1 billion federal, state and territory subsidy to boost Vocational Education and Training (VET) is focused on delivering high-quality education through TAFE.

The last thing we need is a repeat of past policy failures that redirected public funds promoting low-quality, short-course training delivered by for-profit private companies that have exploited countless Australians.

Only by investing in TAFE can the Morrison Government guarantee the skills that Australia will need to create jobs, opportunities and recover from the economic costs of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“TAFE is Australia’s respected, quality provider of vocational education,” NSW Teachers Federation President Angelo Gavrielatos said.

“It has the established infrastructure, community and industry links to put this funding to best use and to provide the opportunity and high-quality qualifications to deliver the skills Australia needs to recover from COVID-19 and to meet the challenges of rebuilding the economy.”

Seven years of Liberal federal governments has resulted in a cut of $3 billion from vocational education. In 2019, $325.8 million in funding was cut from TAFE and vocational education budgets. As a result, there are 140,000 fewer apprentices today, who were lost before the COVID-19 crisis, compared with seven years ago.   

Disappointingly, the JobTrainer announcement won’t make up for seven years of cuts. The funding announced will only replace approximately one-third of what has been cut by Coalition governments since 2013.  

Furthermore, JobTrainer is designed to promote short courses only, attracting an average of about $300 in funding.

“A strong, fully funded TAFE sector accessible to all must be at the centre of the Federal Government’s response to the economic challenges facing Australia, currently and post-COVID-19,” Mr Gavrielatos said.

“The Morrison Government must invest in TAFE so that TAFE can do what it does best – create the workforce that will build the Australian economy.”