Federal and State Liberal Governments must stop destroying our great TAFE system

Sharon Bird today met with representatives of the NSW TAFE Teachers’ Association and the Community and Public Sector Union (NSW)  to hear updated information on the local effects of the cuts to TAFE funding by Liberal Governments, most recently the exposure of State Government funding cuts.

This is worsened by the actions of the Federal Liberal Government who, since they were elected, have cut more than $3 billion from TAFE, skills and apprenticeships.

In this year’s budget, Malcolm Turnbull cut $270 million from apprenticeship funding over the next four years.

Australia now has 140,000 fewer apprentices and trainees than it did when this government was elected.

TAFE and vocational education funding – and the number of supported students – are lower than they were a decade ago. This is despite an increasing number of jobs requiring vocational skills.

Between 2013 and 2016 the government-funded hours of training delivered through TAFE have collapsed by over 30 per cent.

In the Wollongong area this has contributed to the loss of staff, courses and a campus closure.  There has also been a loss of 2,353 apprentices in the Illawarra since the Liberals were elected in 2013.

Ms Bird said that this is in stark contrast to the significant commitments by Bill Shorten and Federal Labor.

Labor will:

  • Guarantee two out of three public vocational education dollars go to TAFE.
  • Waive upfront fees for 100,000 students to attend TAFE.
  • Invest $100 million in modernising TAFE facilities around the country.
  • Ensure one in every ten jobs on Commonwealth priority projects are filled by Australians apprentices
  • Provide 10,000 pre-apprentice programs for young people who want to learn a trade
  • Provide 20,000 adult apprentice programs for older workers who want or need to retrain
  • Establish a National Commission of Review into Post-secondary education within the first 100 days of government.

Ms Bird said Labor’s plan is absolutely designed to put TAFE at the centre of our vocational education system and make it easier for Australians to get the education and skills they need for a good working life.

“If we don’t get this right, we won’t have enough skilled workers to meet the demands of our ageing population and the rollout of the NDIS, nor the workers with the high tech skills to work in emerging industries.

“In our region we know that TAFE is the best place for young people as well as adult Australians needing to retrain to gain the knowledge and skills, in the communities that benefit from them. It is appalling that Malcolm Turnbull and his Government are cutting and attacking the viability of our great TAFE system every chance they get.”