Laurence Axtens, Lismore
The move to privatise vocational and further education since the turn of the millennia has been a catastrophic failure for students, teachers and the community as a whole.
The cut-price education push has meant that the provision of quality education through TAFE has been stripped back and in some cases replaced by poorly provisioned and inadequately staffed providers.
Having cut the TAFE back to the bone, they are now delivering the coup-de-grace by replacing the remaining TAFE colleges with online learning centres. How exactly do you teach carpentry or plumbing or boilermaking online?
How does a virtual tech driver feel in your virtual hand? How do you balance the weight of a virtual truss as you attach a virtual batten? Will you need to wedge your virtual shoulder against it? At least cutting off your virtual finger won’t hurt!
This is an actual catastrophe – we are deserting an entire generation that is still suffering under the yoke of double-digit unemployment, to incredibly substandard education that will further undermine their chances of getting a job.
The price of this cut price-education policy can’t be underestimated. As this generation of baby boomers retire, where are their replacements? Building virtual houses in second life?
The actual skills shortage is dire; 50 per cent of NSW employers in the 25 major occupations reported difficulties recruiting in 2017; that’s the same year that the NSW sState government cut $105m from TAFE’s annual budget.
And it’s not just the youth of the state being thrown in the bin. As our tradespeople retire from active work are they moving into to training positions? No, TAFE has been forced to cut 5,000 staff since 2015 as real TAFE campuses close and these so-called Connected Learning Centres (coffee free – internet cafes) replace them.
The Liberal/National government have failed us badly. This March we have opportunity to make it clear to them just how we ‘actually’ feel about that. It’s also worth noting that only the Greens support 100 per cent public funding for TAFE.