Government cutbacks to cause job losses in TAFE

27 October 2011

TAFE institutes are already mooting the need to offer staff redundancies following changes to TAFE funding announced by the State Government earlier this week.

On October 25, Education Minister Peter Hall told State Parliament that there would need to be “some changes” to funding for vocational education and training (VET) in Victoria.

Those changes turned out to be drastic funding cuts to eight metropolitan TAFE institutes, the scrapping of limits on course fees and a rise in apprenticeship fees by almost 60%.

Minister Hall has defended his decision by declaring that the Government has taken advice from the Essential Services Commission (ESC) report into funding and fees in VET.

“Some of the recommendations have been put in place immediately to ensure that the full benefit of the recommendations is experienced for 2012 rather than waiting for a further 12 months…”, said Hall

The Government has chosen to implement just two of the report’s 43 recommendations.

It has conveniently chosen to ignore advice from the ESC that the current system is becoming “deleterious to … the value of qualifications and … the administration of public funding”.

The ESC report said quality was one of the constant issues raised at their forums and emphasised the need for “regulatory structures designed to provide confidence”.

Among its recommendations was the need for action to ensure the integrity of the system in Victoria was addressed.

The Government is scrambling to fix the mess created by the introduction of market-based competition into skills training — by making TAFE foot the bill run up by the huge increase in private providers.

The number of private providers funded by the Government has more than doubled in the past year, offering cheap, taxpayer-subsidised courses under the previous government's 2009 Skills Agenda. It raises serious questions about the quality of provision.

The result has been a $250 million cost blow-out, and a huge increase in students enrolling in courses such as recreation, fitness training and tourism — rather than in courses that actually meet Victoria's critical shortage of skills.

The Government is reducing the difference in public and private funding rates, which means a 25% cut in extra funding for TAFE's largest providers, worth around $100 million to the sector.

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