Latest Government data from the NCVER shows that federal government funding for VET fell by a further $123.1 million in 2019. A further fall from the $315 million cut in 2017-2018.
AEU Federal President, Correna Haythorpe said: “These new figures are further proof that the skills crisis we are facing as a nation has been years in the making and is a direct result of the Federal Government’s systematic starving of the VET sector since 2013.”
From 2013 to 2017 there was a cumulative cut in Federal Government spending of $3 billion. This report reveals a further fall in spending from $3.08 billion in 2017 (14.2%) to $2.64 billion (4.5%) in 2019. A total decline of $438 million in just two years.
Haythorpe said: “This represents a decline in expenditure per person of 25%. The Federal Government is not investing in ensuring that Australians have access to high quality vocational education to the detriment of much needed economic stimulus post COVID.”
“Even with the closure of borders under COVID, the Federal Government is still showing a complete lack of will to address this crisis by failing to allocate any additional funds to TAFE in the Federal Budget (beyond a paltry $25 million a year for two years for campus improvements).”
In 2019, despite decades of Federal Government neglect, TAFE delivered $92.5 billion in annual economic benefits, which is equivalent to 16 times the cost it takes to maintain TAFE, according to a recent report by the Centre for Future Work.
Haythorpe said; “A strong TAFE system will be crucial to Australia’s recovery. It is essential for securing high quality vocational education and training for large numbers of people.
Without Federal investment in TAFE it will be hard to achieve jobs for the millions of Australians who are unemployed, underemployed, looking to upskill or re-skill to prepare for an uncertain future.
It will be even harder to address the critical shortage of 200,000 apprentices and the youth unemployment rate of 15% as it stands at the end of 2020. The ongoing benefit of this investment will be lost if governments fail to maintain it.”
The AEU calls on all governments to urgently invest in TAFE, the public provider of high quality vocational education, by guaranteeing a minimum of 70% total government VET funds for TAFE and providing capital funding for much needed infrastructure across the nation.