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The AEU has called on the Tasmanian Government to guarantee at least 70% of all vocational education and training funding for TAFEs in the wake of a Federal Budget which has delivered Tasmanian TAFEs the biggest funding cut of any state.

AEU Federal TAFE Secretary Pat Forward, who will visit the Devonport campus of TasTAFE today, said that Tasmanian TAFEs needed funding certainty to ensure they could deliver quality education and skills to another generation of Tasmanians.

“This Federal Budget will cut funding to Tasmanian TAFES through the National Partnership Agreement by 46% – the biggest cut of any state – which will rip another $6 million out of a system already suffering the effects of years of underfunding.

“This will make it even tougher for Tasmanians to get the quality training they need to find a job.”

“In contrast the Labor opposition has guaranteed at least two-thirds of all VET funding for TAFEs.

“This long overdue measure recognises the damage done to TAFEs by privatisation policies which have favoured private providers. We finally have a real difference between the two major parties on TAFE policy.

“A funding guarantee would give real certainty to TAFEs and ensure they have the funding to retain their role as the cornerstone of our training system.

“We need the Hodgman Government to commit to guaranteeing 70 per cent of government VET funding for TAFEs.

“Thousands of Tasmanians have got their start in the workforce thanks to TAFE training. This is too important to put at risk just to line the pockets of private operators.

In Tasmania, the proportion of VET funding that is open to for-profit providers has risen from 20% to 40% from 2008 to 2015. That’s a rapid change which has allowed low-quality private training providers easy access to taxpayer dollars, and further reduced funding to TAFEs.”

Ms Forward said the Federal Government’s decision to axe National Partnerships funding and replace it with the new National Partnership Skilling Australians Fund was just smoke and mirrors to mask cuts to TAFE funding.

The Federal Government claims that the Fund will deliver 300,000 new apprentices and trainees, but gives no information on how this will occur. It relies of visa levies and matching contributions for states, and there is no guarantee it will raise the money they are predicting.

“In addition, the Fund can be used to pay employer incentives and other non-teaching programs. There is no guarantee any of this funding will go to TAFEs and their students.

“This is just a continuation of the underfunding which has seen vocational education become the poor relation of Australia’s education system.

“Funding cuts to TAFEs have led to increases in student fees, cuts to courses and campus closures, and job losses.

“The only winners have been private providers, many of which have made huge taxpayer-funded profits and lumbered students with huge debts for low-quality or uncompleted courses.

“It is time all governments recognised the failure of VET privatisation and funded TAFE properly.”

Media Contact: Harriet Binet, AEU Communications, 0427 841760.

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