TAFE & Adult Provision Taking TAFE back to the top

As a federal election looms on the horizon, there is an urgent need for all TAFE members to unite in support of the AEU’s national TAFE campaign, ‘Rebuild with TAFE’.

Since being elected back in 2013,  federal Coalition governments have done little to support our globally recognised and respected TAFE system. They have presided over funding cuts of $3 billion, a reduction in the number of courses, and dramatically reduced the number of apprenticeships.

TAFE teachers know better than anyone how important a strong and well-resourced public TAFE system is to our communities, employers and the economy. With hundreds of campuses across Australia, TAFE is perfectly positioned to provide real skills to meet workforce demands and address serious skills shortages.

A 2020 report by the Centre for Future Work at the Australia Institute showed that, despite years of significant funding pressure and policy failure, the TAFE system continues to play an essential role in the Australian economy, contributing around $92.5 billion each year. 

This year, ACECQA released a report highlighting the critical need for the federal government to invest in TAFE and help ensure a sustainable supply of highly skilled early childhood educators. Shaping Our Future: A ten-year strategy to ensure a sustainable, high-quality children’s education and care workforce 2022–2031, reveals urgent workforce challenges for the early childhood sector. 

Restoring TAFE funding would create a triple dividend for Australia: a skilled, capable early childhood workforce; increased parent workforce participation to boost the economy; and improved early learning outcomes for Australian children. TAFE’s regional footprint also enables governments to target local needs, ensuring students can study and work in their local communities.

The federal government’s Skills Priority List shows 153 professions with current workforce shortages and projects an additional 144 will experience moderate to strong levels of future demand by 2025.

Despite these workforce challenges – and Australia’s clear need for accessible, high-quality vocational education – there was no additional funding for TAFE in the latest federal budget. Report after report  confirms that the TAFE system is a hugely valuable public asset, but it is being completely neglected by the Morrison government.

The ‘Rebuild with TAFE’ campaign is calling on government to guarantee a minimum of 70% of total government funding to the public TAFE system; restore funding and rebuild the system; and develop a capital investment strategy. A properly supported TAFE would have high-quality facilities and state-of-the-art equipment, more TAFE teachers and personnel, more courses and more opportunities for students. We need a federal government that restores TAFE’s position at the centre of vocational education in this country.

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