Greens fear TAFE proposals will hurt access for low income students

The Queensland Greens have expressed alarm at proposals by the Queensland Skills and Training Taskforce to slash the number of TAFE colleges by almost one-half.

Spokesperson, Dr Jim McDonald, said that the performance of the Newman Government in slashing services to communities rang alarm bells for everyone associated with the Vocational and Education Training [VET] sector.

He said that The Greens welcome the objective of adding 10,000 apprentices to the VET sector and increased participation in training for relevant industry skills.

“But the Taskforce also recommended corporatising the TAFE sector by setting up a 'parent entity' run on commercial principles and downsizing the number of campuses by 46%. That will see the integration of VET into many communities disappear.

“Proposals to close down campuses and amalgamate institutions will distance the TAFE system and Vocational and Education Training from the communities they serve especially in regional Queensland,” he said.

Dr McDonald said it is inevitable that the scale of closures proposed will reduce regional student accessibility and, along with the Newman Government's many other cuts to State service to Queensland communities, further disadvantage young adults from lower income families.

“We fear that the Newman Government will raise student fees to pay for the high costs of investing in industry training.

“Responding to industry demand requires a high level of investment in updating training for TAFE staff and capital equipment. Meeting workforce demand in industry and the need for timely implementation of new skills programs for new and emerging technologies is costly and Queensland investment in training lags behind all but one State.

The Greens call upon Mr Newman and Mr Langbroek to guarantee that TAFE student fees will not rise to cover institutional costs. Increased fees will further exclude students from low income families.

“In the context of the Premier's rejection of State contributions to the Arts and culture in our communities and his attacks on community programs, The Greens also fear that the LNP Government will slash creative industries programs, including the arts, in the TAFE colleges.

“Mr Newman and Mr Langbroek must guarantee the retention of the arts in TAFE programs.

Queensland Skills and Training Taskforce Interim Report: http://training.qld.gov.au/resources/industry/pdf/interim-report-qld-skills-training-taskforce.pdf