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Byron Shire
May 9, 2021

The younger generation hasn’t got a chance

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As a sacked TAFE teacher who has been teaching the Electrical Diploma for 20 years, I am deeply concerned about the future of Australia’s young generation.

When I completed my electrical apprenticeship 40 years ago, I was fortunate that I was able to sit for what is now called the TAFE Electrical Diploma which was available at most colleges in NSW.

These courses were designed to up-skill tradesmen to Technical Officer; Technician or Project officer because the basic trade courses were insufficient for those roles.

While doing the course I was encouraged by the dedicated TAFE teachers to go on to university. The course gave me the skills, knowledge and desire to complete an Electrical Engineering Degree at UNSW.

Historically the state governments of the 1960s and even earlier in the 1880s realised the vital importance of having a skilled workforce and made engineering courses easily affordable and available in the majority TAFE colleges in NSW.

The colleges also encouraged people who left school early to go back to TAFE to be retrained or to complete their Higher School Certificate. With the savage cuts to TAFE these courses are no longer available.

The implementation of the dumbed-down Mike Baird TAFE Smart & Skilled program has resulted in the electrical diploma course being discontinued, electrical apprentices being turned away from TAFE and the sacking of all part time electrical TAFE teachers at St George and Ultimo TAFE colleges.

The legacy of Baird government will be that it destroyed TAFE in its bid to get private providers to take over the role of TAFE colleges originally set-up to educated the disadvantaged.

This is starkly demonstrated by the number of private providers able to offer HEC loans jumping from 7 in 2008 to 247 in 2014. One private provider enrolled 38,213 students and only 2,058 completed their course.

If we want to have an expanding economy in the 21st century we must increase productivity and this can only be achieved by having a highly skilled, motivated and educated workforce. Increasing TAFE fees; abolishing courses and offering inadequate training in the Smart and Skilled program is not the solution.

Especially as the current federal government seems hell bent in making sure that only the wealthy can attain to a university education on top of that.

Tony Morrissey, Chifley NSW

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