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Australia: Privatisation of vocational training detrimental to students

published 31 March 2015 updated 2 April 2015

Reacting to a recently published study, education unions have stressed that authorities of New South Wales must guarantee minimum public funding levels for technical and further education, and avoid the unchecked privatisation that has destroyed vocational education.

The Australian Education Union (AEU), affiliated to Education international and the New South Wales (NSW) Teachers Federation (which is a member organisation of the AEU) stressed that the future of the Technical and Further Education Commission (TAFE NSW), Australia's leading vocational education and training provider, was a key issue in the NSW election campaign.

Speaking on 19 March prior to the NSW launch of the University of Sydney Business School’s report, The Capture of Public Wealth by the for-profit VET Sector, AEU Federal TAFE Secretary Pat Forward said that the University of Sydney research showed the damage caused to vocational education and the big profits delivered to private providers when the sector was privatised in this region.

This report shows that opening up vocational training to the private sector simply turns public funds into private profits, while doing nothing to increase transparency or the quality of vocational education, she said.

In Victoria, TAFE’s share of funding has fallen to 27 per cent of the market, and could fall further, she also deplored.

Condemning the “decimation of TAFEs, the loss of irreplaceable capacity to deliver quality training, and the growth of for-profit companies milking government subsidies and delivering sub-standard courses to students,” she underlined that “this is not the future that we want for NSW, but it is what will happen if privatisation of vocational training is allowed to go unchecked.”