After being elected for a second term, Premier Daniel Andrews promised he would ‘save TAFE’. Despite taking some very positive steps in that direction, reversing some of the damage done by federal and state Liberal governments, there is still much work to do. To put it simply, TAFE is not saved when too many TAFEs are at the point of ‘insolvency’.
Standalone TAFEs have gone from being $67.6 million in surplus in 2018 to $31 million in deficit in 2019. This significant turnaround is largely due to the ending of the Victorian government’s ‘TAFE rescue package’ and the long-term underfunding of the sector – particularly in terms of per-student contact hour funding rates, which are the lowest in the country.
The dire financial situation facing many TAFE institutes was made clear in the 2019 annual report tabled recently in parliament. To make matters worse, these figures do not take into account the financial impact on TAFE resulting from the 2020 pandemic, which has seen approximately 50% of TAFE revenue dry up.
The current financial state of TAFEs means these important institutions, and the passionate educators who drive them, face an uncertain future.
Victoria’s TAFEs have been a crucial part of the state’s education system for years. In regional and metropolitan areas alike, TAFEs provide not only education but also opportunity and purpose. They have helped countless apprentices learn their trade, helped immigrants find a place in new communities and helped many more advance their careers.
As Victoria looks to rebuild from the COVID-19 pandemic, TAFE has a crucial role to play in helping those who have lost their jobs to either upskill or retrain so they can move into new roles.
Unfortunately, the current financial state of TAFEs means these important institutions, and the passionate educators who drive them, face an uncertain future.
In April, as the pandemic took hold, the Victorian government stepped in and provided funding to ensure TAFE institutes would get through the pandemic. The Andrews government has been good to TAFEs and clearly appreciates their value, but now the AEU is calling on government to keep that faith.
Many people will remember the way TAFE suffered in 2012 when the Baillieu Liberal government took the axe to the TAFE system to the tune of around $1.2 billion. This negligent decision cost more than 3000 teaching jobs, affected hundreds of courses, robbed thousands of educational opportunities and hurt communities all over Victoria.
We want to see the Victorian government use the Macklin Review to reform the TAFE system.
We’re calling on Premier Andrews, Skills Minister Gayle Tierney and the Victorian government to truly save TAFE. We want them to announce immediate funding that will secure the short-term future of TAFEs and help them recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
We also want to see the Victorian government use the Macklin Review to reform the TAFE system and ensure that it is future-proofed so that local educators can continue to help tradies, chefs, business owners, aged care workers, accountants and so many more Victorians achieve their career goals.
The AEU has campaigned to ensure that support for TAFE is a bellwether of success for political parties in Victoria. We know that the community has high regard for vocational education and training at TAFE, and that they do not like governments that undermine it. Support for TAFE is a vote-decider for many Victorians.
The massive economic, workforce and social disruption caused by the pandemic makes TAFEs even more valuable for our future. We need Premier Andrews to significantly increase the rate of funding, to fund TAFEs directly (rather than through a quasi-voucher system) and to finally deliver on his promise to save TAFE.
TAFE annual reports – comprehensive financial results (surplus/deficit) (rounded)