Posted by Jim on September 21, 2012
The Queensland Greens have expressed alarm at proposals by the Queensland Skills and Training Taskforce to slash the number of TAFE colleges by almost one-half.
Spokesperson, Dr Jim McDonald, said that the performance of the Newman Government in slashing services to communities rang alarm bells for everyone associated with the Vocational and Education Training [VET] sector.
He said that The Greens welcome the objective of adding 10,000 apprentices to the VET sector and increased participation in training for relevant industry skills.
“But the Taskforce also recommended corporatising the TAFE sector by setting up a ‘parent entity’ run on commercial principles and downsizing the number of campuses by 46%. That will see the integration of VET into many communities disappear.
“Proposals to close down campuses and amalgamate institutions will distance the TAFE system and Vocational and Education Training from the communities they serve especially in regional Queensland,” he said.
Dr McDonald said it is inevitable that the scale of closures proposed will reduce regional student accessibility and, along with the Newman Government’s many other cuts to State service in Queensland communities, further disadvantage young adults from lower income families.
“We fear that the Newman Government will raise student fees to pay for the high costs of investing in industry training.
“Responding to industry demand requires a high level of investment in updating training for TAFE staff and capital equipment. Meeting workforce demand in industry and the need for timely implementation of new skills programs for new and emerging technologies is costly and Queensland investment in training lags behind all but one State.
“The Greens call upon Mr Newman and Mr Langbroek to guarantee that TAFE student fees will not rise to cover institutional costs. Increased fees will further exclude students from low income families.
“In the context of the Premier’s rejection of State contributions to the Arts and culture in our communities and his attacks on community programs, The Greens also fear that the LNP Government will slash creative industries programs, including the arts, in the TAFE colleges.
“Mr Newman and Mr Langbroek must guarantee the retention of the arts in TAFE programs.”
The Queensland Skills and Training Taskforce Interim Report targets a reduction of campuses in the Fraser Coast and Sunshine Coast from 13 to 8. That can only reduce access within the region and it will affect young people from lower income families the worst.
For the Sunshine Coast, this means questions are raised about the Arts courses at the Noosa campus especially in the light of the Newman Government’s aversion to State funding of the Arts. It also raises questions of what courses might be axed at the Nambour campus. And Newman is not averse to axing frontline staff. So how many TAFE teachers are going to be sacked in this process, which Minister Langbroek and the Premier have indicated they favour?
There is no doubt that a review of TAFE has been necessary but it really needed to deal with the best way of providing relevant courses and maintaining teachers’ trade and professional relevance in a time of changing technologies. TAFE has always had a problem nationally in lagging rather than keeping up with technological developments.
Source: Queensland Skills and Training Taskforce Interim Report, http://training.qld.gov.au/resources/industry/pdf/interim-report-qld-skills-training-taskforce.pdfby