Every year on 13 August, National TAFE Day provides us with an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of our public TAFE system and to remind governments of the importance and value TAFE provides to individuals, local communities and to the Australian economy.
This year, due to COVID-19 restrictions, our celebrations had to take a very different approach. Hundreds of TAFE supporters took to social media, posting videos, photos or comments about why TAFE is important to them. The hashtag #NationalTAFEday trended all day, keeping our campaign centre-stage.
National TAFE Day was a chance to remind the broader community of the vital importance of investing in TAFE. New research by the Centre for Future Work at the Australia Institute has revealed that, despite years of significant funding cuts and policy failure, the TAFE system plays a huge and fundamentally important role in the Australian economy, contributing an estimated $92.5 billion each year. Failing to invest in the sector will destroy one of the primary producers of economic growth, prosperity and equity in the Australian economy.
According to the report:
- TAFE creates $84.9 billion in annual productivity benefits, including $25 billion in taxation revenue, which alone is more than four times its annual government funding.
- TAFE has a $6.1 billion economic footprint, including purchases of goods and services, supply chain inputs and employment supporting 48,000 jobs.
- TAFE is responsible for $1.5 billion in reduced social expenses annually, lowering unemployment and supporting a healthier workforce and society.
- TAFE has created an increase in employment of around 486,000 positions.
The AEU has welcomed the report’s recommendations, including its call for a comprehensive public-led reconstruction program that invests in the skills and vocational education of workers and young people.
Australia’s post-COVID-19 response must include the revitalisation of TAFE as the trusted anchor institution of vocational education. It is crucial to Australia’s economic recovery that the Morrison government appropriately fund TAFE – at a minimum 70% of total government VET funding.