TAFE & Adult Provision The burden of shortages in TAFE

All educational sectors are feeling the stress of teacher shortages, and the pressures associated with increased responsibilities and growing workload continue to build. While initiatives are in place to attract and grow early childhood and primary and secondary workforces, not enough is being done to entice industry professionals to become TAFE teachers.

The pandemic, and all that has followed, created previously unseen workplace changes and demands on the teaching profession, at an inconceivable rate, and teachers are exhausted. As members know, the AEU is currently negotiating for a new agreement in standalone TAFEs. So far, we have not secured a commitment to a decrease in workload, nor a solid increase to wages, and without these issues being properly addressed, our public TAFE system will be undermined.

A trades teacher was recently explaining that he is looking for another job because of skyrocketing workloads, low staffing levels, poor facilities, and low morale.

Teaching hours and assessment arrangements continue to cause concern for many members. The table below shows the difference in the application of teaching and assessment hours across the nation, showing that even under Liberal governments, some states had fewer teaching hours than under Victoria’s Labor government.

The Andrews government promised to ‘Save TAFE’, and while Premier Andrews has helped TAFE, it is still a long way from being saved.

Speaking with members, the pressures are clear. A trades teacher was recently explaining that he is looking for another job because of skyrocketing workloads, low staffing levels, poor facilities, and low morale.

Like other states, Victoria is losing highly skilled and qualified teachers. Years of experience are walking out of TAFEs doors because of workload stress and cost-of-living pressures.

As the state government’s own Skills First agenda stated, TAFEs are the engine room for Victorian jobs.

We know that many of our TAFE teachers left higher paying industry jobs, looking to prioritise their contribution to education and hoping for a work–life balance. Instead, they have found the TAFE teacher workload to be even more challenging and demanding, and the work–life balance has been difficult to achieve.

While many TAFEs are citing budget constraints, the teacher shortage means that viable options are needed to attract and retain teachers. Any reduction in conditions and an increase in teaching demands will only result in more teachers leaving the sector.

As the state government’s own Skills First agenda stated, TAFEs are the engine room for Victorian jobs. Under Skills First, the government pledged to restore the capacity of TAFEs to meet the needs of their communities as the core public provider of vocational education. Recognising and supporting their highly skilled workforce is central to this.

We must keep reminding the Andrews government of its stated commitment. TAFE is nothing without its teachers, and the TAFE system cannot survive without a workforce that is properly valued and respected.

Average TAFE teaching hours around Australia


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