The Morrison government’s federal budget of ‘Jobs, Jobs, Jobs’ has failed TAFE, the nation’s trusted public provider of vocational education. TAFE is the largest and most capable vocational educational provider in the country and yet this is not recognised in the budget.
The prime minister has repeatedly stated his aim to get the long lines of unemployed back to work, yet the government has not prioritised investing in TAFE to ensure that workers and apprentices are able to gain a quality vocational education to equip them with the skills to face this crisis.
The federal government had a historic opportunity with this budget to rebuild the recovery on TAFE’s foundations. Instead, they have opted for a quick fix on training and apprenticeships, but no long-term solutions.
AEU Federal president Correna Haythorpe said: “Years of cuts have decimated TAFE with course and campus closures, loss of teaching staff and high student loan debts. Imagine if we had a stronger TAFE going into this crisis, we would be in a much better position to drive the recovery.
"Instead, we have a national skills crisis, a critical shortage of apprentices at 200,000 less than when the Coalition came to government, and the vocational education system is in chaos, which will be exacerbated by this budget’s drive to prioritise funding to low-cost, low-quality private providers."
'In the past seven years we have seen a third of TAFE campuses around the Australia close down due to lack of funding. We are starting our economic recovery well behind the eight ball. You can’t have a skills based recovery without TAFE at its heart.”
TAFE pays for itself. Recent research by the Centre of Future Work shows that despite chronic underfunding and failed market-led VET policies, Australia’s historic investment in the TAFE system continues to generate an enormous and ongoing dividend to the Australian economy.
In 2019, TAFE supported $92.5 billion in annual economic benefits – equivalent to 16 times the cost it takes to maintain it.
“Australia needs bold structural changes to revive the economy, there is no greater investment for Australia’s young people and workers than to invest in high quality TAFE," Correna Haythorpe says. "This pays huge economic and social dividends to Australia. Unfortunately, the government has missed this historic opportunity with Budget 2020.
MEDIA CONTACT: SARAH JONES, 0423 162 310