The ACTU is calling on the Federal Government to stop ducking its responsibility to fix Australia's under-funded TAFE system following a new report that shows young Australians are missing out on a high quality technical education.
ACTU President Sharan Burrow said today:
"The release of the findings of the TAFE Futures Inquiry shows that urgent action is needed to correct chronic under-funding of Australia's TAFE colleges.
The new report confirms that there has been ten years of neglect of our TAFE system by the Coalition Government.
This is a finding the Minister for Vocational and Technical Education Gary Hardgrave can no longer avoid. He should admit we now have a skills crisis that is entirely of the Government's own making.
The Government has slashed TAFE funding by more than $1 billion since 1997.
In this time 300,000 young Australians have been turned away from TAFE colleges as a result of the Federal Government's funding cuts.
"This new TAFE inquiry report, conducted by Dr Peter Kell, received over 100 submissions from TAFE teachers and students, local communities, unions and industry and held more than 80 consultations around the country.
It's findings are too important to ignore. The Howard Government must start to reverse the slide in funding and resources to TAFE colleges which are the backbone of Australia's education and training system.
Mr Howard finally came out and admitted he got it wrong on the skills crisis last week when he announced funding for the skills package: " ... the old adage better late than never, even if it is late ..." (12 October 2006)
The Government now needs to fess up to the problems that have been created by inadequate support for TAFE.
Investing in the TAFE system and training up our young kids is the way to stop the skills shortage crisis in its tracks," said Ms Burrow.
The report found that teachers are being stretched from both sides. In some areas there are critical teacher shortages and some teachers are being called upon to do a larger amount of administrative tasks.
"Teachers are being paid low wages, in some cases less than the apprentices they are teaching, it is just not right," said Ms Burrow.
"It is time that both the State and Federal Governments come together to implement these findings and fix the TAFE system before it is to late."