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.
I see, in TAFE, all around me, teachers who care, passionately, about what they are doing, are good at what they do, but who face losing their jobs anyway. I’ve seen them at Open Days and Careers Expos, talking earnestly with prospective students and parents, offering good study and career advice, which has satisfied those listening, often leading to a heartfelt “thank you so much!” from those listening. But those teachers might still lose their jobs.
Pat Forward: This is a big move for you, but it’ll be a big loss for the Australian TAFE system. You been a big supporter of the TAFE system and you’re also a product of the TAFE system?
Alistair Mant’s 1991 book, Intelligent Leadership introduced the metaphor of a frog and a bicycle to analyse organisational systems. Mant suggested 'bicycle' systems are those whose individual components can be taken apart and put back together without any damage.
In the last few weeks, there were several stories in the mainstream media which shone a light on the debacle unfolding in the TAFE system in Australia. The Australian ran a story called “Graphic illustration of fee madness” about the escalation of fees for higher level qualifications in TAFE in the ACT - $27,000 for an Advanced Diploma in Graphic Design. It also ran a story about “providers” – public and private - “gaming” the VET system in Victoria by inflating study loads in order to increase government funding.