The CPSU NSW welcomes the Federal Labor Party’s announcement to fund 465,000 free TAFE course places.
The plan, which includes 45,000 newly created course places, would be a positive step for a vocational training system that has been brutalised by years of job cuts, outsourcing and campus sell-offs by a State Government in thrall to cut-price private providers.
The latest in a succession of TAFE managing directors to quit the position, Steffen Faurby, leaves behind a trail of rolling restructures, forced redundancies and the outsourcing of functions such as campus security.
He leaves behind a smaller TAFE thanks to the sale of campuses like Scone, which, despite community opposition, was offloaded to Racing NSW. Mr Faurby leaves behind a vocational training system that has regional students relying on inferior computer-based Connected Learning Centres (CLCs) rather than proper, hands-on TAFE campuses.
Trading Up: Free TAFE, the McKell Institute’s report into vocational training, found Australia has seen a drop in apprenticeship numbers and students in education at the same time skills shortages are emerging throughout the country. The report recommends more people get access to TAFE through free courses, so Labor’s promise to fund nearly half a million places is a welcome move.
However, this would just be one step in a long process to return TAFE to its rightful place as the world’s best vocational-training system and a vital cog in the country’s post-COVID economic recovery.
The CPSU NSW, which represents educational-support staff in the TAFE system, believes 100 per cent of government vocational training should be allocated to TAFE, not to for-profit private providers.
If the Labor Party wins government and funds 465,000 course places, it will need to follow up its actions by giving TAFE the resources to hire the staff required to run them and to re-open campuses all over NSW. It needs to reverse the thousands of jobs cut by Mr Faurby and his numerous predecessors to ensure the courses are of the highest quality students expect when they enrol in a TAFE course.
Quotes from CPSU NSW Branch Secretary Stewart Little:
“The CPSU NSW welcomes the Labor Party’s plans to fund 465,000 TAFE course places, but more work will need to be done. Staff will need to be employed to support this move in New South Wales after TAFE cut more than 1000 positions in the past six months.
“TAFE needs to reverse the thousands of jobs cut by Steffan Faurby and his numerous predecessors.
“Nearly half a million free TAFE course places will require more educational-support staff.”