State of our TAFEs: PM’s TAFE cuts leading to soaring workloads

21 February 2020

Early analysis of the Australian Education Union’s (AEU) ‘State of Our TAFE 2020’ survey has revealed that, on average, TAFE teachers are working an additional day per week over and above their paid work, resulting in soaring teacher workloads at all levels.

At today’s AEU Annual Federal Conference in Melbourne, Federal President Correna Haythorpe will highlight the additional workload impact on TAFE teachers.

According to the survey:

  • TAFE teachers are working on average one additional day per week over and above their paid work
  • 72% of respondents say that their working hours have increased over the last three years
  • 93% of respondents said that the pace or intensity of their work has increased over the last three years
  • Only 2% say their workload is always manageable, due to excessive administration and management demands

Ms Haythorpe said that years of federal government funding cuts were now exacerbating Australia’s skills shortage. She said funding for vocational education had been cut by more than 15% in the ten years to 2016, while the Morrison Government had cut TAFE funding by 10.6% ($326 million) in 2018 alone.[1]

“Funding cuts to vocational education have seen apprentice numbers decline by 140,000 across the country, exacerbating our current skills shortage,” Ms Haythorpe said.

“Australia’s TAFE system offers a clear solution to this situation. It offers the highest standard of vocational education at all levels, with nationally accredited programs and a highly qualified and experienced workforce of professional teachers.”

“However, privatisation policies resulting in course and campus closures have caused incalculable damage to TAFE and led to significant job losses across the sector,” Ms Haythorpe said.

According to the most recent Commonwealth Report on Government Services (RoGS) report:

  • In 2017-18 total government expenditure on vocational educational fell by $252 million to a total of $6.02 billion, a decline of 4.0% from the previous year. This was the lowest spend in real terms of any year over the last decade
  • This is an expenditure decline of $1.6 billion (21.3%) from the 2012 peak of $7.65 billion
  • Total annual hours provided by government expenditure continued to fall to 36.4 million, a decline of 6.4% from last year and of 30.6% from the 2012 peak

“Half the new jobs in the future will require a Vocational Education qualification,” Ms Haythorpe said. “We have a nationwide skills shortage and a youth unemployment rate that runs twice the rate of the national average. This is the devastating reality of privatisation, marketisation, and the billions of dollars of funding cuts for TAFE.”

“Without a strong and properly funded TAFE sector, how can we hope to train the people we need to deliver the infrastructure essential for our future, to drive our transition to renewable energy, and to limit the already catastrophic impact of climate change?” Ms Haythorpe said.

“It is crystal clear there is an urgent need to invest in a strong TAFE. It is going to be vital for Australia’s future, and for tackling the big challenges of our future.”

“Only TAFE provides a highly-qualified workforce and a trusted, world-leading education that will give Australians the skills they need for the future,” Ms Haythorpe said.