Mike Baird is the first NSW premier to record a budget surplus of $2.1 billion, after having already made his mark on history by his legacy of destroying TAFE in favour of supporting private providers who are running to the banks to deposit the federal government’s VET FEE-Help monies flooding in courtesy of the taxpayer.
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 most technical education/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. As a baby boomer I was encouraged, after completing my Electrical Trades course, to do the TAFE Electrical Engineering Certificate (Certificate IV) in the 1970s. The course fee was only $26, a year which is equivalent in today's money to $300. While doing the course I was encouraged by dedicated TAFE teachers to go on to university. The course gave me the skills, knowledge and desire to complete an electrical engineering degree at the University of NSW.
Under Mike Baird’s TAFE Smart and Skilled program the fee for Certificate IV in engineering has gone up to $20,000 while the fee to do a trade course is $11,830, and 95 per cent of TAFE colleges are not running the Certificate IV in engineering. This hike in TAFE fees has resulted in a drop of 30,000 in student intake this year — and consequently the sacking of 2500 TAFE teachers. The NSW government’s preferred training option is for young people to seek private providers. These firms are conducting mass advertising campaigns to sign up disadvantaged students on the pretext that they don’t have to pay fees upfront but can access VET Fee-Help.
I was recently contacted by a private provider asking whether I would like to do a course but when I told her I was 67 years old she hung up. One private provider is offering a course to become a licensed builder in three months.
As revealed on a recent television current affairs program, the number of private providers able to offer HECS loans has jumped from seven in 2008 to 247 in 2014. One private provider enrolled 38,213 students but only had 2058 complete their course.
Would it be much better for the economy for the 20 per cent unemployed youth to be trained at TAFE instead of hanging around Centrelink looking for a menial job or seeking the dole?
Tony Morrissey (sacked TAFE teacher)