Why vocational education matters now more than ever
Anne Jones looks at how we can design education to nurture the capabilities needed for an active and equitable citizenship in a digital society.
On March 28, NSW residents will go to the polls in what will be an election where the future of TAFE as we know it will be on the line.The Liberal\National Government has set out a clear agenda that involves massive fee increases for courses, over 1000 TAFE staff to be slashed and no certainty in ongoing funding for TAFE Institutes across NSW.
2013 was a terrible year for TAFE in Australia. It was the year that the funding cuts and the "reforms" really hit students, teachers and communities. But it was also the year when more and more people joined the campaign to defend public vocational education in TAFE.
In late April 2012, the Victorian Coalition government, building on the skills reform initiative of its Labor predecessor, unleashed its own radical model of vocational education and training (VET) market reforms. Basically, these reforms opened up the public funding of VET to virtually all comers and removed any dedicated funding to sustain the public character of TAFE (the public VET provider network).
The Commonwealth Government has decided that Australia’s young people should be either “learning” or “earning”. Yet the institutions in which they are expected to learn have been under constant attack by state governments. As the Victorian coalition government heads into an election in November, it is timely to look back on their history of cuts to education and the impacts these are having on young people and their families.
Government ‘reforms’ to TAFE are destroying a key institution that contributes to Australia’s well-being, social cohesion and economic prosperity. The purpose of the changes is to create markets in vocational education and training and to transform TAFE into a commercial provider of services that competes on the same basis as private-for-profit providers.