WARRNAMBOOL'S mayor has thrown her support behind efforts to stop $10 million in government funding cuts for South West TAFE, which has triggered a decision to axe 43 jobs and sharply increase fees.
Tonight Cr Jacinta Ermacora will ask colleagues to back her urgency motion calling on the Baillieu government to reverse the funding cuts and recommit to supporting training and skill needs of the Warrnambool community.
She also wants the council to write to local MPs requesting a meeting to brief them on how the cuts will affect the Warrnambool community.
“The most significant impact of the cuts to South West TAFE will be felt at the Warrnambool campus,” Cr Ermacora said.
“There is no doubt the number of students taking up courses at Warrnambool will be significantly reduced and a significant numbers of staff will lose their jobs.
“TAFE is vital in this region for our expanding industries. Now it feels like the state government is determined to slow down the growth.
“It looks like we are going to see an increase in youth unemployment in Warrnambool.”
The mayor’s proposed urgency motion follows Friday’s announcement by South West TAFE’s board that 10 per cent of the total staffing across the region’s four TAFE campuses would be cut to deliver immediate salary savings of $1.35 million.
Twenty-eight effective full-time positions will be trimmed through redundancies, retirements and end of contracts.
South West TAFE’s budget allocation has been trimmed by $2.7m this year and more than $7m next year. It said fees for some courses would have to be increased by up to 400 per cent and 169 courses would be eliminated.
The board also issued an open letter to the community calling on people to protest to their local MPs.
But South West Coast MP Denis Napthine said there had been a lot of scaremongering about state budget cuts.
He urged the city council to meet himself and Higher Education and Skills Minister Peter Hall to hear the government’s strategy first-hand.
“Warrnambool City Council would know setting a budget is a difficult challenge,” he said. “What we have done with TAFE is to get it back to core focus with quality courses that provide real training for real outcomes.”
Cr Ermacora said some hospitality, retail and agriculture courses were likely to be cut — important sectors in the local economy.