Debate continues over One TAFE modernisation program

Parliamentary Secretary for the Central Coast Adam Crouch, with staff members Jason Darney and Gale Iseppi, at Gosford TAFE in May last year

With three TAFE campuses in the region, Parliamentary Secretary for the Central Coast, Adam Crouch, and TAFE NSW have hit back at claims by Shadow Minister for Skills and TAFE Jihad Dib that the key objective of the State Government’s modernisation program for TAFE is to slash its budget.

Dib says the One TAFE modernisation program, announced in 2016, was billed as providing better outcomes for students and employers, and delivering a responsive and innovative TAFE.

But he says an Audit Office report noted the objective of the reform was to find $250M in savings.

“We don’t need more spin; we need the Government to invest in TAFE so that it can help build a strong and resilient workforce,” Dib said.

“Students, teachers and employers need an organisation that is focused on delivering a strong workforce for NSW as we recover from COVID-19, rather than one that turns straight to TAFE cuts to meet budget needs.”

But Crouch said TAFE has had a presence on the Central Coast for over 70 years and would continue to achieve strong results for local students for many years to come.

“Between 2017 and 2019, TAFE enrolments at our three campuses of Gosford, Ourimbah and Wyong have increased by four per cent,” he said.

“Over this same time period, I’m proud that there has been an 8.5 per cent increase in staff.

“The NSW Government will continue championing TAFE NSW as a dynamic public provider and have always put students and teachers at the centre of our decisions.”

A spokesperson for TAFE NSW said TAFE was half way into its six-year plan to transition to the One TAFE operating model, which is “about delivering the quality training that employers want and students need, while building on best practice and remaining competitive”.

“Many of the milestones in the TAFE NSW Strategic Plan have been delivered or are in progress,” the spokesperson said.

“TAFE NSW is confident that the planned outcomes will be achieved at the end of the six-year plan.

“Many of the benefits of the modernisation program, both financial and non-financial, are already being realised.

“TAFE NSW notes that the Audit Office has stressed that there were extenuating factors that contributed to its outcomes.

“It is important to note that in 2019 the national regulator, Australia Skills Quality Authority (ASQA), certified TAFE NSW as a Registered Training Organisation for the next seven years.

“The NSW Government has consistently confirmed its commitment to the organisation and management that TAFE NSW remains a comprehensive public provider, putting the needs of students at the centre of all decision-making.”

Terry Collins