We have welcomed the Victorian government’s investment of an additional $11.7 million in the TAFE system to help meet the demand created by the introduction of free courses. The funding includes $5m for extra places, $500,000 for teacher scholarships to attract professionals with industry experience, and $6m to supply study skills and course materials to disadvantaged students.
At the end of June, there were 25,000 enrolments in free courses. The AEU is now calling on the government to make further significant investments to ensure we have enough fully qualified teachers to meet the increase in student numbers.
It is gratifying to see public TAFE finally getting more of the support it needs. We know that Victorians support this vital access to further education and the high-quality skills TAFE provides.
The 2019 Free TAFE list is especially focused on meeting the job and training needs of regional Victoria. We understand the department will be reviewing completions and provision at the end of each year to match industry demand and avoid flooding the market with graduates for jobs that don’t exist, as occurred under the former Liberal government’s privatisation agenda.
The AEU remains focused on ensuring that the new staff agreement is properly implemented in TAFE institutes, especially regarding workplans and managing teacher workload. We are still hearing of instances where teachers have been expected to teach for up to 1,350 hours. Anything above 800 hours is a breach of the agreement and we are in the process of using every avenue to bring those institutes into line.
Other issues we are tackling include a lack of training provided to senior educator managers regarding workplans, which should have been completed by 1 March; several reports of unaddressed risks to health and safety; and a lack of consultation with staff at some institutes on significant changes to working arrangements.