Time to save TAFE
TAFEs have been a crucial part of Victoria's education system for years and are highly valued by the community.
Regional Victorians know better than most the value of TAFE institutions and the education services they offer. TAFE can provide not only education but also opportunity and purpose.
TAFE has helped countless apprentices learn their trade, helped immigrants find a place in new communities, helped locals advance their careers via upskilling, helped school leavers find a pathway to employment or further education, and offered a fresh start to people who have lost their job or entire industry.
As Victoria looks to rebuild from the COVID-19 pandemic, TAFE can play a crucial role by helping those that have lost their job upskill or learn entirely new skills so they can move into new roles.
Unfortunately, the current financial state of TAFEs means these important institutions and the passionate teachers that drive them face an uncertain future.
Recently released annual reports revealed Victoria's TAFE institutes suffered a combined net loss of around $25 million for 2019. In Warrnambool, South West Institute of TAFE reported a net loss of almost $5 million for 2019, a drop of $9 million from 2018. This has happened because the funding model is broken. Perhaps even more worrying is the fact that the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is not factored into these numbers. Once we take a worrying trend and add in a global pandemic, the results could be disastrous.
In April the Victorian government stepped in and provided funding to ensure TAFE institutes would get through the pandemic, but that funding is soon to be exhausted.
The government has reinvested in TAFEs and appreciates their value. The free TAFE program and other investments have been vital not only to TAFEs but to many local communities. Now TAFE teachers are calling on the government to keep that faith and ensure our regional communities don't lose their TAFEs.
Many will remember how TAFE suffered in 2012 when the Ted Baillieu Liberal/Nationals Government took the axe to the TAFE system to the tune of $1.2 billion. This act of social vandalism resulted in more than 3000 teachers being sacked, saw hundreds of courses cut, robbed thousands of Victorians of educational opportunities, and hurt local communities all over Victoria.
We're calling on Premier Daniel Andrews, Minister Gayle Tierney and the government to deliver immediate funding to secure the short-term future of TAFEs and help them recover from the pandemic.
The government is currently undertaking the Macklin Review; a significant review of TAFEs and vocational education. It must use the review to further reform the TAFE system and ensure it is future-proofed. We need to save TAFE once and for all.
AEU Victorian branch president Meredith Peace
Please note: The Standard prefers letters to be less than 250 words. Preference is given to shorter contributions. Letters must include the author's name, address and contact phone number for verification purposes. Letters are published at standard.net.au and in print.