31 May 2013

Call to Invest in Queensland, Invest in TAFE

“Stop TAFE cuts” is the theme for National TAFE Day on Monday, 3 June, setting the scene for TAFE workers and students around Australia to both celebrate the educational chance brought by TAFE as well as commiserate the ongoing budget cuts to the public provider by state governments.

In Queensland, the day comes less than a fortnight after submissions closed for the Queensland Government’s draft “VET investment plan 2013-14”.

The Queensland Teachers’ Union represents 1300 TAFE teachers in 82 TAFE campuses; President Kevin Bates said the draft plan presented little good news.

“It would be more accurately called a divestment plan as far as it applies to TAFE as the core provider of post-school vocational training and education,” Mr Bates said.

“Funding in Queensland per capita for post-secondary education has been among the nation’s lowest for years; and an increasing proportion of that shrinking pie is being handed to private providers at the expense of TAFEs.

“Building on the ‘contestability’ rhetoric of the Skills and Training Taskforce recommendations, the plan continues to push a competitive market approach to VET that grossly undervalues TAFE’s value as a public educator, not just a deliverer of pared down training packages.

“For example, no funding is proposed for the services that only the public TAFE system reliably provides, such as library services, student welfare and disability support and job placement.

Mr Bates said the Queensland Government was moving further down the path that had proven to be a disaster in Victoria, where TAFE’s share of the VET market had fallen by 30 per cent in less than two years, more than 2400 TAFE workers had lost their jobs, and students were suffering from variable and questionable course quality at sometimes astronomical cost.

“Add the uncertainty surrounding the Queensland Government’s plan to ‘rationalise’ TAFE campuses, with 38 of the state’s 82 at risk, and the rushed introduction of the TAFE Queensland Bill 2013 which will move control of TAFE Queensland to an ‘independent’ board’s control from 1 July, and it’s little wonder that our TAFE members are highly suspicious of the Government’s commitment to an adequately funded public provider, its commitment to quality and accountability when it comes to VET provision in this state, and its commitment to having a stable, supported, fairly paid and well treated group of educators working in TAFE campuses,” Mr Bates said.

For further information or comment, contact QTU President Kevin Bates at the QTU’s Milton office on (07) 3512 9000 or call QTU TAFE organiser David Terauds on 0409348339.