The NSW upper house committee inquiring into the future of TAFE will be in Lismore and Wollongbar today.
The inquiry was set up ‘to ensure that MPs from all political parties see up close the damage that the NSW government’s Smart and Skilled training market has done to the public system,’ according to Greens NSW MP John Kaye.
Public hearings will be held at Nightcap restaurant, Wollongbar campus from 10am to noon and in Room A2.01 Lismore campus from 2pm
Dr Kaye said it was an opportunity for ‘community organisations, unions, teachers, staff, current and former students and concerned citizens have let the parliament know what’s on their minds.’
‘The 233 heartfelt submissions to the inquiry overwhelmingly rejected the NSW government’s current approach to TAFE,’ he said.
‘There was a special level of hostility towards the competitive skills training market.
‘The submissions expressed anger at the prohibitive costs of study, the complexity of Smart and Skilled, course closures and reductions to face-to-face teaching hours.
Dr Kaye said that no MP could ‘ignore the consequences of the escalating pressure on TAFE teachers and other staff as they struggle to deliver high quality education despite a shrinking budget.’
‘Teachers and administrative staff have provided their personal stories of frustration and pain caused by the faulty software program forced upon them at a critical moment in TAFE’s history,’ he added.
‘Just as the NSW government was rolling out its plan to make the public system compete for students with low-cost low-quality private training companies, TAFE staff were forced to manage the process with an enrolment package that has cost half a billion dollars and still doesn’t work properly.
Dr Kaye said that when he visited the Wollongbar and Lismore TAFE campuses some two months ago, ‘there was a great deal of concern from students, teachers, staff and members of the community about the future of TAFE in the region and the ability of long-term unemployed, young and disadvantaged people to access high quality affordable post-school education.’
‘Since my visit in early August, TAFE in the region has been dealt a further blow with the release of the proposed restructure of the North Coast TAFE Institute.
‘I have submitted a series of questions about the potential for up to 200 jobs to be spilt in the North Coast TAFE Institute directly to the Nationals Party MP and Skills Minister John Barilaro and will be asking management representatives of the Institute about this today in person,’ said Dr Kaye.
The meetings will take place at Nightcap restaurant, Block M, Wollongbar Campus, 61 Sneaths Road, Wollongbar from 10am and in Room A2.01, A Block, Lismore Campus, 64 Conway Street, Lismore from 2pm.