Attacks on the working conditions of TAFE teachers diminish the quality of students’ learning conditions.
TAFE teachers are the backbone of vocational education in NSW but quality provision is being diminished by cuts to course hours, the dumbing down of training package content, increased class sizes, and increased administration at the expense of teacher preparation time.
RMIT University Adjunct Professor Gavin Moodie (The Australian TAFE Teacher, Autumn 2015) wrote: “The most important obstacles to improving the quality of vocational education are the unrelenting cuts in funding per student training hour, which have been introduced by both major political parties at both major levels of government for over a decade.”
Moodie continues: “Yet the Government seeks to fix the problems arising from marketising vocational education by introducing yet more marketisation — what it calls ‘contestability’ — in developing training packages. This risks all the principal-agent problems of bodies acting in their own market interests rather than in the interests of their students let alone the system as a whole. This in turn will require the Government to introduce different layers of monitoring and control, by contracts rather than regulation, but external control nonetheless.”
Professional TAFE teachers are the critical element in delivering quality teaching in all TAFE colleges across NSW. Increasingly, private companies are employing trainers, not teachers.
TAFE still encourages teachers to take higher adult education qualifications.
Consumer Action Law Centre chief executive officer Gerard Brody and senior policy officer Katherine Temple wrote in The Australian TAFE Teacher (Winter 2015) about private providers: “We receive complaints about poor quality courses, including courses that have a lack of teaching staff and poor facilities. We are particularly concerned about the growth in online courses, where completion rates for VET FEE-HELP courses are as low as 7 per cent.”