TAFE & Adult Provision It’s time to invest in TAFE teachers

In 2021, the Victorian government released the results of former federal minister Jenny Macklin’s review into Victoria’s post-secondary education and training. The Macklin Review aimed to create a system that would drive collaboration and innovation for the social and economic benefit of Victoria.

A skills-led economic recovery needs a creative and collaborative approach across the skills sector to meet the changing needs of students and industry. TAFE is central to this, but it must be funded in a sustainable way if we are to see genuine change. 

One in three Victorian adults have a VET qualification as their highest level of learning, and all Victorians benefit every day from the high-level skills and dedication of the TAFE workforce. But, currently, there is too much risk allocated to students, who are expected to know how to navigate the system without support and advice on which level of course best suits their learning needs and career goals. Too many students are enrolling in Free TAFE courses without the foundation skills that would enable them to complete their course. This wastes taxpayer money and does not help meet the needs of industry.

We hear stories of TAFEs not following the agreement, asking teachers to work more hours.

Premier Daniel Andrews has been a strong supporter of TAFE. The establishment of Future Skills Victoria, a key recommendation of the Macklin review, has occurred and has completed the first Skills Plan for Victoria.

But, despite this, we are still seeing TAFEs with inadequate funding, making ends meet by shaving courses and hours. Students are missing out, and workloads for teachers far exceed manageable and paid hours. This is leading to stress and burnout for TAFE staff.

We hear stories of TAFEs not following the agreement, asking teachers to work more hours. Teachers are leaving TAFE because of these issues, putting added pressure on those who remain.

Some employers have resorted to setting up separate entities like Chisholm Online, employing teachers on lesser pay and conditions than the Victorian TAFE Teacher Agreement.

We are building unity through conversations about the obstacles we face, growing support for the work our members do.

It was not surprising when our TAFE member survey found that workload, job security and remuneration are key concerns. When we launched our TAFE campaign in June, teachers from across the state joined online to plan ways to get better funding and resourcing into the system through the next TAFE agreement.

We are building unity through conversations about the obstacles we face, growing support for the work our members do. At the launch, members resolved to connect with other members, to shine a light on the issues we’re all confronting, and to campaign to improve them. Members discussed building power, demonstrating collective strength to the employer, and ways of building sub-branch capacity and power.

We are planning visits to local state government MPs to raise awareness of our issues – these have been delayed until Term 4. AEU organisers and TAFE members have been asking colleagues to sign petitions in each TAFE, asking TAFE CEOs to support claims for greater investment in TAFE and its workforce.

This occurred at the same time that Minister for Training and Skills Gayle Tierney launched the first Victorian Skills Plan, outlining a new approach: ‘a skills roadmap’ for training in Victoria.

The plan identifies 11 key areas of focus, along with a commitment to produce 13 stand-alone industry reports, including on education and training; health and community services; and on service industries. Tierney’s Skills Plan predicts needing 65,000 new workers in community and related services by 2025, with significant implications for our TAFE and disability members.

A better TAFE system needs better funding and, to achieve this, your union sub-branch needs you. Please contact the AEU to get more involved: aeuvic.asn.au/help-advice

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