NSW Parliamentary committee backs TAFE: Are you listening Mr Piccoli?

Greens Media Release, March 26 2014: A NSW parliamentary committee containing a majority of government members has thrown its support behind TAFE describing it as "the backbone" of vocational education and training (VET). The Economic Development Committee released its final report its report into Skills Shortages in NSW this afternoon.

Finding 4 states: "The Committee finds that TAFE NSW is the backbone of vocational education and training in NSW and that to achieve the state's economic and social priorities it is vital that TAFE NSW receives appropriate and adequate funding".

Greens member for Balmain Jamie Parker, who was a member of the committee said: "After hearing the overwhelming evidence, the Economic Development Committee recognised the value of TAFE and its importance to the future of the state's economy and social fabric. The committee looked closely at skills shortages and methods to address them and found that TAFE was a vital piece of the puzzle. However we also recognised that TAFE needs appropriate and adequate funding in order to help the state achieve its economic and social priorities. I challenge those Coalition members of the committee who I worked with on this report to support the Greens bill to save TAFE when I bring it on for debate in the lower house. The Greens bill will secure TAFE's future by putting an end to the budget cuts, student fee increases and Smart and Skilled market. If Smart and Skilled is not stopped, the O'Farrell government will be placing the economic and social priorities of the state at risk," said Mr Parker.

Greens NSW MP John Kaye said: "The committee found that a strong well-funded TAFE system is vital for the economic and social future of NSW. The O'Farrell government's policy of undermining the public VET provider is now so unpopular that even Coalition MPs are calling for TAFE to be adequately and appropriately funded. Three out of five members of the committee are government MPs. TAFE is being pushed to the brink by their Coalition colleague Education Minister Adrian Piccoli. They need to take action urgently and bring these findings to Mr Piccoli's attention and demand that he fund it accordingly. The committee specifically noted the difficulties experienced for regional communities when TAFE Institutes are forced to trim down and consolidate courses. Forcing students to leave town, travel long distances or stop studying altogether is unacceptable. All regional MPs should take note of the committee's findings or risk condemning their communities to rising unemployment, social displacement and economic disadvantage. Almost 400 positions were removed from TAFE NSW in 2013, according to data obtained by the Greens. Under Smart and Skilled, from January 2015, TAFE will be stripped of the lion's share of its core funding and will be forced into an unwinnable competition with private providers. The course closures, teacher job losses and massive student fee rises are about to get a lot worse. It is time for the O'Farrell government to listen to the advice of its own MPs in the Economic Development Committee and put a halt on the budget cuts and the Smart and Skilled agenda that is threatening to destroy TAFE," said Dr Kaye.

Members of the Economic Development Committee

Chair: Mr David ELLIOTT (Lib, LA Member).
Deputy Chair: Mr Mark COURE (Lib, LA Member).
Mr Christopher GULAPTIS (Nat, LA Member)
Ms Noreen HAY (ALP, LA Member)
Mr Jamie PARKER (The Greens, LA Member)

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