TAFE & Adult Provision Shortages having worse impact on women teachers

While the skills shortage across Australia is well documented, the shortage of highly skilled TAFE teachers is not getting the attention it deserves, given the central role TAFE plays in solving this issue. In order to tackle the widespread shortages, state and federal governments must urgently increase their investment in the current TAFE workforce, and the recruitment of new, qualified teachers.

Staff shortages in Victorian TAFEs mean that most teachers are experiencing dramatic and unsustainable increases in workload. Many departments can only continue to run courses because their existing teachers are working well above their contracted hours. 

Teachers, no matter the sector, are continually expected to do more with less class time and less time to prepare. Class sizes have increased dramatically, more so in female-dominated teaching areas. We recently held a Women in TAFE caucus to find out the extent of the impact these teacher shortages are having on gender issues, and the findings were shocking.

Some male teachers at some TAFEs are being paid at the highest classification no matter their qualifications, while some female teachers are being offered a small classification increase only if they undertake more training.

Some teachers in male-dominated areas are being financially rewarded for teaching in areas of high demand, with no change to class sizes. Meanwhile, some teachers in female-dominated areas of high demand are having their class sizes significantly increased with no financial compensation – just more work.

Some male teachers at some TAFEs are being paid at the highest classification no matter their qualifications, while some female teachers are being offered a small classification increase only if they undertake more training. These issues are being further investigated with the plan to pursue possible legal action.

The government needs to act now to attract industry professionals into TAFE and to stem the loss of existing teachers. When TAFE teachers walk away from the profession, we lose years of experience from our vocational education sector.

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