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Future of manufacturing 'in peril' due to TAFE funding cuts

19 June, 2014

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.

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John Myers | Friday, June 20, 2014, 9:43 AM
These cuts to Tafe must be reversed if we are to maintain a quality public provider. I am a Tafe Teacher and I am witnessing the effects of both Federal and state funding cuts. Smart and skilled if introduced in 2015 will see further erosions in quality as the proposed funding is nowhere near sufficient.
gordon | Friday, June 20, 2014, 12:09 PM
I gave up on the system when they dropped a year off apprentiships. labour I believe ! 3 years too short , no value for me to train , push them through and fire them as half baked trades men
Julie | Friday, June 20, 2014, 1:37 PM
The cuts to TAFE funding were well in place even before the Abbott Government. So stop passing the buck , Bill Shorten you are just as sneaky as the rest of the politicians out there. Only in it to feather their own nests.
Hedley James | Monday, July 7, 2014, 7:24 PM
I have been training apprentices in businesses in which I had a management role through the 70's and 80's, plus for the last twenty years in my family engineering business I have trained more. I have also been on committees that set up the TAFE courses that manufacturers rely on to help educate young people. I am over it. Given that TAFE has been failing for many years, that the Government of all types has subsidised apprentices at around $13k a year to fund this inadequate TAFE culture of self interest, I am inclined to continue, indeed expand, the in-house training programme in my business. So, why pay twice? I can teach the apprentice (I'll call them trainees) without the cost of losing days off to attend a disfunctional TAFE system and know what has been taught and what the apprentice has retained. I can also hold the traineeship to a five year term and see that even metalurgy is covered. Now that $20K loans (HECS) are in the pipe line, what do you think young people are going to do? TAFE system or mine? Puting that to one side, TAFE, or whatever replaces it, seems an unlikely business model to keep up with all of the changes going on in industry right now. Industry needs to move business models much faster now. Industry does not have time to help the TAFE model stay up with us. Engineering and the industries around it are changing too fast. If we don't change to follow the changing demand, our business models fail. Training has become a live and active model and any engineering business that fails to see this will go the way of Danny Devitoe's horse whip factory.