29 May 2012, by Pat Forward
The severity of the cuts to TAFE funding in the recent Victorian budget on May 1 has focused the attention of many outside the sector on the unravelling of vocational education in Australia. The sector has been calling for an informed debate about vocational education policy for a long time. The attention is welcome and the debate essential.
The dismantling of TAFE did not start on May 1 in Victoria, when the Baillieu government slashed $300m and an estimated 2,000 jobs from TAFEs. TAFE has endured endless funding cuts over the years, and it is by any measure the worst funded education sector in Australia – a 25.7% reduction in funding since 1997. These cuts to funding have resulted in the neglect of teacher qualifications and professional development, and decline in student support. TAFE has become one of the most highly casualised sectors in education.