$196 million TAFE shortfall threatens NSW skills sector
After years of neglect by the former government, it can now be revealed TAFE NSW has been left with an almost $200m funding shortfall that unless addressed could result in campus closures, course cuts, job losses and questions around safety of teachers and students.
TAFE NSW has been a long-standing institution that has provided countless thousands with the education that has carried them through their working life.
But the former Government has never valued vocational education. In fact:
- From the 2012 TAFE NSW annual report to the 2022 annual report, there has been a 45 per cent decrease in TAFE NSW teachers.
- Since 2015 casualisation has increased, with a 15 per cent drop in permanent teachers who were replaced by the equivalent number of casuals.
- Since 2012 TAFE enrolment numbers have declined 28 per cent decline.
- Since 2011 apprenticeship and traineeship commencements dropped 33 per cent.
- Since 2011 TAFE completions dropped 67 per cent.
The TAFE NSW budget over the forward estimates shows the former government has cut funding by $196 million, from $1.996 billion in 2022-23 to $1.801 billion in 2023-24.
The inherited shortfall of the TAFE Budget was a deliberate decision of the former government with cuts locked into the Budget’s forward estimates payments.
Advice from TAFE NSW to the Government is that the operating budget for the State’s public provider of vocational education and training has required a budget adjustment at the last minute of at least $200 million each year for the last four years to ensure that the very basic delivery of services could be maintained.
The NSW Government and the Commonwealth Government are about to enter into negotiations for a new National Skills Agreement. Any further funding decisions will be made in conjunction with this process.
But the NSW Labor Government understands how important a strong vocational education system is for skills and training in NSW. It’s why we have committed to:
- A comprehensive review of the vocational education system to determine the full impact of Coalition cuts and establish a path to rebuilding TAFE;
- Keeping TAFE campuses in public hands;
- Hiring an additional 1,000 apprentices and trainees across the NSW Government by 2026 ;
- Guarantee a minimum 70 per cent of the Skills budget will go to TAFE;
- Address the skills gap through three manufacturing centres of excellence – in Western Sydney, the Hunter, and the Illawarra.
Treasurer Daniel Mookhey said:
“Budget after budget, the former government has underfunded TAFE NSW and left it begging for the funding it requires every year to effectively teach and train people for careers that provide important skills and services for communities across NSW.
“Without appropriate funding TAFE NSW is facing course cuts, reduced number of teachers, closure of campuses, deteriorating facilities and disadvantaged students being neglected.
“TAFE NSW is skilling up and accrediting the State’s current and future workforce - the builders, IT experts, designers, educators, accountants, business owners and other professionals across a wide range of industries - and deserves the funding to do this effectively.
“The former government has neglected TAFE NSW, resulting in teachers and students operating out of facilities that are unsafe and not up to date with industry standards. Repairs, maintenance and equipment are desperately needed and significantly overdue.
“In the lead-up to the September Budget, the Comprehensive Expenditure Review will assess the State’s financial position and ensure that Government spending is focused on the priorities we were elected to deliver including restoring TAFE.”
Minister Tim Crakanthorp said:
“While the amazing teachers and support staff have thrown everything they have into TAFE, over a decade of cuts has left our public provider as a shell of its former self.
“The former government’s approach to funding TAFE was a game of chicken, underfunding and then providing top up support at the last-minute time and time again.
“The game of budget chicken isn’t just tiresome, it robs TAFE of the stability it needs to skill the
workers of today and prepare themselves for the needs of tomorrow.
“There’s a lot of work to do, but the Minns Labor Government is committed to getting TAFE back on track and ensuring it thrives.”