TAFE loses place in education sector

Greens MLC John Kaye (centre) and NSW Teachers Federation representative Rob Long (back, fourth from left) meet with students of TAFE Illawarra Bega campus last year.IN WHAT has been labelled a complete surprise, the NSW Government has moved the responsibility for TAFE from Education to the Industry sector.

“No-one as far as I know had been aware of it being discussed,” Bega TAFE’s NSW Teachers Federation representative David Grainger said of the move.

“It is a complete surprise.

“What does Industry really know about Education?”

NSW Teachers Federation organiser for Illawarra TAFE Institute Rob Long also said no consultation had been made over the decision.

“It’s obviously hugely disappointing that the new government has undervalued TAFE’s educational role,” he said.

“However, we look forward to a positive relationship with the new minister.”

The decision was announced after the NSW Liberals’ recent re-election to government and comes in the wake of their contentious Smart and Skilled TAFE reform package released on January 1.

TAFE will now fall under the portfolio of Minister for Regional Development, Skills and Small Business John Barilaro.

“The move to the Industry, Skills and Regional Development portfolio aligns vocational training with industry representatives and business organisations,” a spokesperson for Mr Barilaro said.

“The decision aligns TAFE directly with Industry to create the jobs for the future.”

The spokesperson for Mr Barilaro said current TAFE funding arrangements are unchanged, but Mr Grainger thought the decision would mean less funding available for TAFE service delivery.

“I can’t see anything in the last 10 years having put in money so I don’t imagine this is a sudden reversal of that process,” he said.

Mr Long said his concerns over the transfer of TAFE to Industry included not having an educational voice in training packages, and policy being dominated by the needs of industry.

“You need to focus on student needs…not just the needs of the workplace, because there are a lot of students who need more support, such as students with disabilities,” Mr Long said.

He said Member for Bega Andrew Constance assured him the transfer of TAFE to Industry will have no adverse effect on Moruya and Bega TAFE campuses.

NSW Greens MP John Kaye said he was “outraged” over Premier Mike Baird’s decision to move TAFE into Industry.

“It’s the next step to privatisation of TAFE,” Dr Kaye said.

“It means the next generation of South Coast workers will not have the proper understanding of their worksite and will not have the opportunity to innovate.

“After just six months of ‘Smart and Skilled’, TAFE is on the ropes,” Dr Kaye said.

“Severing the connection to Education will push it over the edge.”

Mr Long said Smart and Skilled has so far seen a “huge” increase in fees, an increase in costs for students as they are no longer subsidised at the same level, and having hours cut from such courses as manufacturing and nursing.

Mr Long said similar privatisation of TAFE funding has occurred in Victoria and Tasmania, and this has led to an increase in “lower quality, dodgy providers”.

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