Vocational education and training review panel’s funding recommendations must be implemented in coming NSW Budget

The NSW Teachers Federation endorses the Vocational Education and Training Review Panel’s first report released today, which recommends changes to TAFE governance and funding, removing TAFE from the contestable funding market.

The NSW Government announced a comprehensive review of the NSW vocational education and training system (VET) and formation of the VET Review Panel in June last year. The Panel’s first report recommends streamlining funding for TAFE through direct appropriation, providing certainty over the Budget’s forward estimates. The Panel also calls for a TAFE NSW Charter to clarify TAFE’s role and purpose.

The NSW Teachers Federation has campaigned for over a decade for the replacement of the NSW contestable market policy Smart and Skilled, in favour of a governance and funding system that guarantees recurrent funding for our TAFE students, teachers, support staff and communities.

The LNP’s funding and governance model had the most devastating impact on regional and  disadvantaged communities, depriving students of the courses they need to build the skills both they and the broader economy need.

Deputy President, Amber Flohm, said the NSW government should immediately implement the recommendations before it in the upcoming budget and abolish the failed Smart and Skilled funding model of the previous LNP government, which is widely recognised to have decimated TAFE.

“Our students can’t wait and nor can our communities. The skill shortage is getting worse and threatening critical national priorities such as in construction, nursing and the clean energy transition. The NSW economy needs a revamped, revitalised TAFE,” Flohm said,

“These recommendations are urgent and must be implemented in the 24/25 NSW budget. The 24/25 redistribution of currently committed funds and efficiencies saved through abandoning the LNP’s failed governance and funding model will mean that TAFE teachers can start to deliver for their students and communities at the start of the 2025 enrolment period, not 2026 or halfway through 2026.

“NSW Labor has long campaigned to save TAFE. This is the opportunity to make this a reality.

“TAFE teachers, campuses and courses suffered for twelve long years under the Liberals and Nationals. Our students and communities need commitment and action now.

“It is time to restore TAFE NSW as a public asset serving the public good.

“Under the current discredited model, every hour of face-to-face teaching requires an hour of administration to chase the data, the compliance and the accountability required under the Smart and Skilled policy. This is the heart of the problem. It has to be reformed in this Budget, with the funds redirected back to teaching and delivering vocational education and training for our students and communities.

”Our high school students who want to attend TAFE, particularly in Western Sydney, South-Western Sydney and in regional areas, have been abandoned by the previous government’s destruction of our local TAFEs. In many parts of NSW there are simply no courses available. They have been let down.

“We can rebuild TAFE to reskill, upskill and provide foundational learning for all who need it. A revitalised VET system in TAFE is a launching pad for fulfilling, lifelong careers that contribute to a prosperous, socially inclusive NSW.”