Members send a message to politicians that now, more than ever, investing in TAFE means investing in a positive future for us all.
TAFE advocates used this year’s National TAFE Day to demand that politicians of all stripes properly fund TAFE and support its central role in rebuilding the economy post-COVID. Members took to social media on 11 August, posting messages about the value of TAFE, and calling on state and federal governments to throw their weight behind the sector, shared under the hashtag #RebuildWithTAFE.
The state government’s Macklin Report argued that TAFE should be at the centre of our vocational education system, leading the way on delivering high-quality vocational programs. The Andrews Labor government’s investment of $383.8 million, announced in the state budget, will go some way towards establishing the reforms needed to give Victorians the skills and education they need to thrive in the community, and to access meaningful employment – which will, in turn, contribute to the rebuilding of a robust economy. But TAFE will only be saved through funding that meets the full costs of delivery.
And yet, data predicts a shortage of more than 200,000 workers across critical industries in the next five years, including childcare, aged and disability care, hospitality, carpentry, plumbing, and IT.
The push to secure the future of TAFE reaches a critical juncture with the new National Skills Agreement, due to be finalised at the end of August. Replacing the previous National Agreement for Skills and Workforce Development (NASWD), it will lock in the future policy and funding agreed between state and federal governments. The AEU remains deeply concerned about reports that the federal government is exerting pressure on states to agree to funding and policy commitments underpinned by its view that competition drives improvements.
Despite all that TAFE has endured in Victoria, including the enduring effects of contestable funding, introduced by Labor in 2008, and the massive budget cuts under the Liberals in 2012, the Productivity Commission claims the VET sector is not in crisis. And yet, data predicts a shortage of more than 200,000 workers across critical industries in the next five years, including childcare, aged and disability care, hospitality, carpentry, plumbing, and IT.
While state government investment, including the introduction of Free TAFE courses, has been a step in the right direction, the ongoing shortfall in funding has placed unsustainable pressures on institutions already doing it tough during the COVID-19 pandemic.