The AMWU marked national TAFE Day this week by taking the fight for our apprentices' rights to quality training to the heart of the problem – Canberra.
National President Andrew Dettmer said the future of our manufacturing industry was being imperilled as Coalition Governments slowly strangled TAFE colleges by depriving them of funds.
Dettmer said a poorly-regulated market system of private providers could never replace the role of TAFEs, which had been forced to drastically cut staff and courses, with some colleges merging to avoid going broke.
He joined Opposition Leader Bill Shorten at a seminar on The Future for Young Australians, part sponsored by the AMWU, at the Canberra Institute of Technology. The union also contributed to a reception at Parliament House to mark TAFE Day.
Dettmer said TAFE tuition was being remodelled around a user-pays system featuring loans, which for most apprentices would mean going into debt by being forced to rely on the $20,000 loan scheme introduced by the Abbott Government.
This would force them to buy their tools and pay extra for tuition, saddling them with a future debt at the start of their working lives.
Dettmer said the immense damage done to TAFE colleges in Victoria, NSW and Queensland in the past four years was being compounded by the Federal Budget.
He said the axing of Aust. Workforce and Productivity Agency and the National Skills Standards Council were clear indicators that the Coalition was hell bent on turning the apprenticeship and traineeship standards over to a loosely regulated market, into another form of employer welfare.
But too many large employers were cutting costs by importing bigger numbers of 457 Visa holders rather than taking the responsibility to invest in training.