Vouchers won't fix TAFE

AEU TAFE Conference.jpg

11 October 2017

Business Council of Australia chief executive Jennifer Westacott’s address to the National Press Club today has failed to address the very real issues facing vocational education in this country.

‘Better’ market information, vouchers, and more governance will do nothing to alleviate the problems facing our TAFEs, which need more than bandaid solutions if they are to fight the combined forces of underfunding, marketisation, privatisation and cuts to campuses, courses, curriculum and teachers.

At best, the suggested reforms will do nothing. At worst, they will further shift the costs of education from the government onto students, while doing nothing to address the systemic problems facing TAFE.

What the BCA lacks is a deep understanding of vocational education, and a commitment to students, teachers and, above all, education.

While the BCA may be looking for quick solutions to solve their members’ labour force needs, the Australian Education Union is working on a vision for TAFE. Next Friday, it will hold the inaugural national TAFE conference, The future of public TAFE institutions: new social policy.

The conference will seek to reimagine TAFE as an anchor institution in communities that supports individuals to realise their aspirations; communities to be resilient, strong and socially inclusive, and, industries to be sustainable and innovative and ensure people have access to decent jobs.

It will consider what TAFEs should look like and what they should do, including the qualifications that they deliver, and the curriculum and pedagogy that underpin them. Rather than a market-driven wishlist for business, the conference will draw on academics, researchers, policy makers, teachers and unions to create a vision for TAFE in society.

Speakers include Professor Leesa Wheelahan, Dr Jim Stanford, Professor John Buchanan, Professor Valerie Braithwaite, Professor Anne Jones, John Pardy and Craig Robertson.

Our TAFE system cannot be revitalised with quick fixes. This conference will be the beginning of a process towards guaranteeing the future of TAFE.

For more information and to book your tickets www.aeufederal.org.au/futureofTAFE