Victorian TAFE cuts will suffocate state’s productivity

The Ted Baillieu Victorian government appears hell bent on dragging the state down in the short term and in the long term.

By attacking the technical and further education (TAFE) institutions in Victoria, the state government has illustrated scant regard for the state’s economy or future capacity to meet the growing need for technical and trades people. While there might be a mining boom happening in some states and plenty of opportunities for people with technical and trades training, the state government of Victoria is failing to see how it can respond when the boom comes to an end.

It would seem that for all the supposed ability to manage an economy, the Baillieu government is failing abysmally. Yet the breathtaking stupidity of attacking TAFE is there for all to see.

Within days of the state government announcing wide-ranging cuts to the TAFE budget because of private sector blow-outs and largesse, various universities that provide TAFE courses announced the closure of courses. It didn’t take long for established TAFE institutes announced they would have to dramatically scale back their offerings and ability to meet student demands on future course offerings. Not content were the current conservatives with the hikes in TAFE fees from the previous Labor state government, it was determined that slashing technical and further education would help the budget.

Unfortunately, the Liberal National coalition are simply running on ideology not on any practical policies supported by research and discussion. Like their federal counterparts, the state conservatives sense that they have a mandate to attack the institutions that make sure there is the ability to meet the growing demands for skilled labour.

Unemployment has gone up and is continuing to rise as more jobs are lost in manufacturing and Qantas’ plans to continue to off-shore maintenance work. And this is on top of the job losses in the public sector. The faux austerity measures are not improving the conditions of the state and are certainly not prompting an increase in business investment and growth. There definitely hasn’t been a cut in the cost of living; a key election promise of Baillieu’s campaign in 2010.

By limiting and restricting the growth of wind and solar energy, the state is losing out on growing a manufacturing base for renewable energy projects. This base can be developed relatively quickly given the potential of the existing manufacturing base. It can even spur some manufacturers to re-open plants and operations. However, because the state government is refusing to grow the economy, the state is losing skilled workers to other states or overseas.

As unemployment rises, people will seek to re-train or update their skills through institutions like TAFE. But with the state government’s slash and burn approach, courses are being dumped and fees are sky-rocketing. There are dwindling options available for re-training or career development while pricing more people out of the ability to pursue further education options; options like TAFE which used to be affordable. The ability to access affordable vocational and technical education has ensured people have employment options and to make available to the labour market skilled, educated workers. TAFE used to help produce the very workers being sought after in the mining boom; and the subsequent growth of regional areas.

The Baillieu government’s own employment and procurement practices have to be more closely scrutinised. Rumours abound that the government will continue to gut the public sector but then re-employ some of the same people through short-term contracts and labour hire firms. These kinds of practices lead to a shrinking corporate knowledge and stagnation in policy development; and more importantly stagnation in policy execution and follow-through.

Attacking our TAFEs is another example of the Baillieu Liberal government’s failure to develop a long-term vision for the state. The inability to meet Victoria’s need for skilled labour means that more businesses may end up leaving the state, costing more jobs. It’s clear there are no plans to improve the level of productivity through education and development and help improve the conditions for local businesses to innovate and continue to compete in the global economy. By attacking TAFEs the state government is effectively suffocating productivity.

The Baillieu government tinkers at the edges without a thought for the ramifications and calls it reform; after telling Victorians it’ll cost more to the taxpayer.

Victorians should think long and hard before giving the Baillieu government another term. It’s clear they are incapable of taking care of the state’s economy; or ensuring the state is capable of taking full advantage of the growing renewable energy industries.

28 comments on “Victorian TAFE cuts will suffocate state’s productivity

  1. Alex, I have been involved with the TAFE systems in both Victoria and NSW and I would consider that Victoria has..or should I say had by far the superior system.

    While Gillard giveth with one hand, Baillieu taketh away with the other..

    Prime Minister Julia Gillard has announced details of her plan to give TAFE students access to HECS-style loans.

    Ms Gillard says up to 60,000 TAFE students could benefit from the $1.75 billion package, which she will take to next month’s Council of Australian Governments meeting.

  2. When are people going to wake up to what they Coalition governments are doing to the nation.

    Where is the proof that sacking tens thousands of PS leads to government savings.

    Most of the responsibilities lies in providing direct services such as health, education and infrastructure such as roads and ports.

    Whether they sack PS or not, there is still need for workers to carry out governments responsibilities.

    PS are being replace by private industry and contractors. There is still a cost to the government.

    When is it acceptable that governments bring down governments, saying they will be sacking, but no number given

  3. Another exciting example of the Liars party in action. By August 2013, the Liars will be in deep doo doo and the ALP giggling.

  4. maybe the lnp premiers have a cunning plan, to wit,
    to drive their respective state economies down through their actions, blame the feds for adverse repercussions, thus providing some solidity to the loto’s claims about a struggling economy, and similarly aiding in his struggle for the power he so obviously thinks he deserves.

  5. Have any of you lot ever heard the aphorism that one should cut your coat according to the cloth? or do you all think that governments have a magic pudding that grows money?
    If successive state Labor governments had been a bit more frugal during their incumbencies then the need to pay down debt now would be less and we could afford to finance more education now. Which even I agree is a good idea. But even the very best good ideas have to be paid for. Just imagine if the Victorian Labor government had not built that utterly useless desal plant the you could have some super Tafe now and into the future.

  6. At a time when Australia needs new businesses and new skills as the old industries disappear (either out of date, or offshore) conservative governments are intent on cutting spending in education.
    There’s one simple mantra here: ‘Adapt or die’! Downskilling and debasing education is deliberate destruction of the capability of Australia to adapt and change in a rapidly changing world.
    Continue on the path and we will likely eventually welcome in the era of Australia being the Americanised “white trash” of Asia.

  7. The conservatives have always believed that higher education is the domain of the well off, those whose parents can afford to pay exorbitant fees for it.

    The public system is for the dregs and private school rejects so as to turn out cheap manual labour.

    Skills are to be imported at cheap rates or outsourced at cheap rates.

    The unemployed due to having a lack of skills and imported workers is of their own doing for being lazy and dole bludgers, so must not be given any assistance.
    The crime increase that ensues is the fault of not being tough enough so harsher penalties must be implemented.
    The overcrowding in jails is because they are too soft so larger, harsher and a greater number of prisons need to be built, all outsourced to companies with a terrible record of managing prisons (and detention centres).

    Welcome to a Liberal National/State run future.

  8. Möbius Ecko

    One of the sad facts of life is that having more higher education is that the credentials required for even the most mundane jobs are ever rising. Is it a social good that the labour digging a trench needs a PHD in advanced ditchology?
    I wonder about that a lot to be honest.
    Further how is it that so many lefties like yourself are so keen to embrace modern technology but that you seem to be so unknowing of the way that the same technology requires less and less people to operate it?
    Therein lays the employment problem and no amount of training or “re-skilling” is going to change that simple fact

  9. Gee, Iain, funny how so many European Countries are able to fully fund their Higher Education system, without even needing to resort to Upfront Fees or HECS type systems. Oh, maybe that’s because they have a more equitable education system, resulting in more people being at graduate level of expertise. Also, because these Countries have a more equitable system of taxation, those professionals coming out of higher education are paying a much bigger share of their income back into government coffers-making the whole thing affordable. Australia’s education system is proof positive of the failure of neo-liberal policies shoved down our throat by 11 years of Howard. I wonder how Victoria will be faring when their tax base shrinks in the next 10 years, due a lack of a decent skills base?

  10. “I wonder how Victoria will be faring when their tax base shrinks in the next 10 years, due a lack of a decent skills base?”

    And their criminal base increases also eating a chunk out of reduced revenue.

    As is typical of Lib governments though it will be everyone and everything else’s fault.

  11. THE dramatic cuts to University of Ballarat TAFE courses have been met with concern from key industry bodies. . . . “From a local point of view, we would be disappointed if trades were going to be cut from the University of Ballarat’s TAFE program, especially in areas where it’s going to impact on our members in the region,” she said.

    “Obviously the university attracts apprentices from a wide catchment area around Ballarat and the Wimmera and if particular courses are cut and apprentices have to go to TAFE courses in Melbourne, it adds to the cost of training and the cost to their employer releasing them to go off and study.”

    Victorian TAFE Association executive officer David Williams said that not only would the cuts affect TAFE students, but they could also lead to hundreds of job losses.

  12. THE forecasts of cuts associated with the state government’s changes to TAFE program funding were bad but we didn’t expect the extent of what the University of Ballarat delivered yesterday.

    The university says it has no choice but to slash between 50 and 60 VET programs and to make staff redundant. While the physical cuts to programs is disturbing, as is the loss of jobs, what really is concerning is the flow-on impact to the young, and older, people who undertake these courses. These are courses which often provide options for residents who want to learn new skills and fill jobs in areas where industries are desperate for skilled staff. And these programs provide options for many others who do not intend to apply for university courses.

    In reducing funding, the state government has left providers with few options but to undertake quite radical action in dumping these courses. We expect that other TAFE schools will take similar action.

  13. More to thank the Liberals for:

    BALLARAT businesses stand to lose millions of dollars after the company in charge of building the Ararat Prison went bust this morning.

    St Hilliers Ararat Pty Ltd and St Hilliers Construction Pty Ltd have both gone into liquidation, leaving a number of Ballarat companies unaware if they will receive any portion of the millions of dollars they are owed.

    At least five Ballarat-based companies are believed to have been left in the lurch, some of which are owed as much as $500,000.

    It is not yet known if the companies will receive any of the money that is owed to them, as St Hilliers appointed an administrator because it could no longer pay its debts brought upon by the prison.

    In a statement, the company said negotiations for a $150 million bail out from the government, Ararat Prison equity investors, and its bankers, had failed

    One Ballarat business, who had been working on the project since February last year, said it was looking at losing almost half a million dollars that was owed to it.

    “We only had about one month of work to go but now we don’t know if we are going to get any money back at all,” said the company’s owner, who wished to remain anonymous due to confidentiality agreements.

    “We were told last week everything was fine and that we would be okay, but then this happened. We’ve got about 25 workers and we don’t know if we will be able to keep them in jobs.”

    Another smaller sized contractor said it also feared it would not get any of the $200,000 it was owed.

    All Ballarat businesses contact today by The Courier blamed poor management by the company overseeing the project and said there had been whispers the project was set to collapse for weeks.

    Some even walked off the jobsite and took their equipment home last week.

    The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union’s (CFMEU) Victorian state secretary Bill Oliver blames poor management by the state government.

    “The government have failed to reach an agreement on financing this project and they have failed thousands of contractors and workers, both in Victoria primarily and now around Australia,” he said.

    “This has not come out of the blue. The government have known about this issue for six months, since St Hilliers raised concerns in December 2011.”

    Mr Oliver said the government sourced materials from China which didn’t work.

    The project alone is worth $350 million and was commissioned in 2010 by the Brumby Government.

  14. Pingback: Victorian TAFE cuts will suffocate state’s productivity | TAFE in Victoria |

  15. I read this a few weeks ago and commented at the time. Since than I have been waiting and listening for the outrage from Bailleau’s country cousins.

    ‘Cheffields wholesale meats owner Andrew Smith supplies meat to the institute from the farm he runs with his wife in Bunyip near Morwell. Smith, a former chef, holds grave concerns about the TAFE system’s future. He fears apprentices from Gippsland will be forced to study in Melbourne or abandon their career aspirations altogether.’

    Read more:

    After all the shouting over grazing in National Parks, you think cutting regional communities would hear yells far and wide.

  16. To Iain Hall: How far back do you want to go in blaming previous governments for political woes – move on mate? No government is perfect but fact is, the current government is holding the bag and they were elected to solve state problems whether inherited or not. The Liberals gladly accepted the job, and immediately began plans to save money by dumping public employees (while at the same time accepting huge unopposed salary increases). That is the limit of their fiscal genious! Amazing how pollies seem to forget they are public servants too, and can be easily dumped at election time. This government’s decimation of the TAFE system is founded on a forelorn theory that privatisation will solve everything. Soon the state (the people) will own nothing, and the government’s only role will be to count money from privatised franchises as it rolls through the coffers. It certainly won’t be getting much money from income taxes, because most people will be unemployed with no hope of affording even basic retraining. Baillieu and your namesake (Hall) have no interest in the long term future of education (and health) in Victoria. The hopes and dreams of so many talented students, dedicated teachers, and staff have been shattered, and all because of the short sightedness of two uninspiring public servants, Ted Baillieu and Peter Hall. When will Liberal party members wake up and shove these two mediocrities from the benches? BTW I am also dissatisfied with Labor for not coming out with a public rebuttal to the TAFE cuts – how about it Daniel, where do you stand in all this?

  17. The thing is, that not only has the “privatisation” of vocational training NOT saved any money, but it has seen a MASSIVE blow out of costs. So instead of recognising their misatakes, the Libs gut TAFE instead. Someone please explaiun the logic to this

  18. Pingback: Victorian attacks on TAFE will suffocate state’s productivity « Alex Schlotzer

  19. An excellent debate going on here and apologies for not jumping in sooner. Although it seems as though everyone’s been having enough fun without me. Anyway, I think that a few people have touched on important points about what really is a poorly considered decision.

    The biggest blow outs as GMS points out is in the private sector, yet the viable public sector is punished and demonised as being incapable of delivering.

  20. Adelaide

    Gee, Iain, funny how so many European Countries are able to fully fund their Higher Education system, without even needing to resort to Upfront Fees or HECS type systems. Oh, maybe that’s because they have a more equitable education system, resulting in more people being at graduate level of expertise. Also, because these Countries have a more equitable system of taxation, those professionals coming out of higher education are paying a much bigger share of their income back into government coffers-making the whole thing affordable. Australia’s education system is proof positive of the failure of neo-liberal policies shoved down our throat by 11 years of Howard. I wonder how Victoria will be faring when their tax base shrinks in the next 10 years, due a lack of a decent skills base?

    Really Look at their current debt levels and then tell me that you think that they can CONTINUE to fund their fancy higher education systems or will going broke cause them to completely collapse?

    We all want the best possible education opportunities for our children but its foolish to think that just because we can keep our young people in education for longer that doing so is actually the best thing to do either for them or for our society. Frankly having someone still in higher education until they are approaching thirty seems like a waste of productive capacity if you ask me.

  21. Pingback: Victorian TAFE cuts will suffocate state's productivity | Café Whispers | TAFE Campaign |

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s