Raising the BARR – Week ending 5 March 2021

TAFE Gets Cut Again and Again

In recent days it has been revealed that another 12 jobs will be lost from our local TAFEs. This follows the dozens of jobs already lost. This also follows the dozens and dozens of courses that have been cut from the program as well.

All this at a time when our State and Federal Governments, along with industry and employers, are all telling us that we have a “skills crisis”. Just tell me, where are people supposed to go to get their skill qualifications?

The slick spin that comes out the NSW Premier’s mouth is that these jobs that are being cut are somehow not important to the TAFEs they are being cut from, the communities that they are being cut from, and the families that rely on these incomes.

We now have a TAFE system that is training some 150,000 less students each year, employs some 5,000 less staff and is selling off its land and campus sites. All of this in a “skills crisis”.

I really don’t know why this Government hates TAFE so much. I don’t know why it hates people getting the chance to be trained and skilled-up. I really don’t know why this Government hates the idea of young people having a career future. I really don’t know why this Government hates families having reliable incomes.

This Government seems to have a view that TAFE learning can be online. Yes, there are some courses and some elements of courses that can be learnt online, but that really is no substitute to having a teacher and a classroom full of your peers with whom to learn. In fact, studies have shown that online learning really falls off a cliff after about 100 hours, which in real terms is about 4-5 weeks of course work.

This “it’s all online” approach is the failure to realise that so many TAFE courses are hands-on courses where a person needs to be trained in practical skills. This approach also fails to recognise that there have been many students that have thrived in TAFE that were not so terrific with the books at school and these same students will surely not respond well to an online environment.
It is seriously like this Government are choosing who they want to do well and who they want to throw on the scrapheap. There is absolutely no sense that the approach this Government has taken to TAFE is about lifting all boats on a rising tide right across society.

Let’s not forget that many TAFE courses that just ten years ago cost $500 are now charged at $12,000–$18,000. How many doors does this slam in the face of our youth?

As Martin Luther King so eloquently put it “It’s alright to tell a man to lift himself up by his bootstraps, but it is a cruel jest to say to a bootless man he ought to lift himself by his own bootstraps”.