The Government’s actions have been nothing short of an act of vandalism, particularly at a time of high youth unemployment and a NSW economy facing a shortage of skilled tradespeople and apprentices.
Somehow, the NSW Government was oblivious to this crisis and ploughed on with the destruction of TAFE only to announce, in a breathtaking move in March 2018, a $10 million fund “to help more young people aged between 15-24 get into work or training.”
Further, the 2018 State Budget offered 100,000 free apprenticeships to “ensure there is a strong pipeline of skilled workers across the State”.
“The NSW Government is in a unique position to support young people in acquiring the skills they need for the jobs of the future,” Premier Gladys Berejiklian said.
“We want to make sure the next generation of workers at school or in tertiary education have the skills and opportunities to build great careers.”
Tell that to the dedicated staff and students who once populated thriving TAFE campuses across the state, vibrant local community assets that once built careers and now lie abandoned and increasing in ruin or are being redeveloped and repurposed.
To make matters worse, under the NSW Government’s ironically titled Smart and Skilled reforms, course fees have also skyrocketed in recent years – in some cases by more than 300%.
Many students, mums and dads trying to give their child a well-grounded start in the workforce and those seeking to re-enter employment after a break due to family or health reasons – have been unable to afford to enrol or worse, complete courses they had begun.
The Smart and Skilled reforms have also allowed unscrupulous private training providers to rip off not only vulnerable students who receive nothing but a massive debt, but also the state’s taxpayers.
Investigations into the operations of a large number of these private trainers have revealed that more than one billion dollars have fraudulently claimed. That’s probably just the tip of the iceberg.
Imagine the educational outcomes the TAFE system in NSW would be able to deliver with that level of funding?
The disturbing fact is rather than properly funding TAFE NSW, the NSW Government instead favours an entire workforce being given a crash course in training hastily delivered by inexperienced poorly skilled private providers that are more interested in a fast buck than expertly equipping people for the state’s future.
Think about that next time your car goes to a mechanic for brake repairs or you require an electrician because of concerns about faulty wiring in your home.
NSW is looking into an abyss where no one will have the correct, properly accredited skills to safely build, maintain or repair anything.
Call out costs at two in the morning will be the least of anyone’s problems.