Union state president Lara Golding has told InDaily her members are hearing from management that the State Government plans to cut up to half of the 550-plus courses on offer in South Australia from as early as next year.
“It’s across the board as far as we’ve been hearing across a range of different programs,” she said.
“That would mean that there were fewer opportunities for our young people, fewer opportunities for people looking to reskill, fewer opportunities for people who are looking to enter the workforce to be able to have the range of courses that they need.
“It might limit the types of courses available. It also might limit the entry level courses which are really important to enable people to get that foot in the door and start working their way to a diploma level.”
Golding wrote to TAFE chief executive David Coltman nearly two weeks ago seeking answers and said she is yet to hear back.
“We’ve asked for confirmation, for clarification and further details from the CEO of TAFE and we have not had a response,” she said.
“It’s unbelievable that at a time when our economy most needs reskilling, our government would be looking to cut down TAFE and reduce opportunities for reskilling in this state.”
In a written statement to InDaily this morning, Coltman said “there is no intention to cut 50 per cent of courses from next year” but he did not say if any courses or how many would be axed.
“We work closely with the government to ensure we are meeting the skills requirements that are needed for the jobs of today and the future,” he said.
TAFE has been plagued by problems in recent years, including a scandal in 2017 that saw the Australian Skills Quality Authority suspend enrolments in several courses after a failed audit.
The Government has injected extra funding into the skills provider, but that’s been met with savings targets which staff claim have led to merged and cancelled classes and staff benefits frozen.
The Marshall Government has closed several TAFE campuses, including Port Adelaide, Tea Tree Gully and Parafield.
In July last year it backflipped on plans to close the Urrbrae campus, announcing it would remain open but – along with several regional and outback campuses – it would operate in a reduced form.
Golding said members had once again been left fearing for their jobs.
“I would think that would mean up to 50 per cent of lecturers being cut potentially,” she said.
“They’re concerned about what this might mean for them, for their work and for their long term employment prospects at TAFE.”
Education Minister John Gardner was asked to comment but referred InDaily to TAFE.
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