While the provision of high quality public vocational education and training (VET) through TAFE has been under threat across the nation for decades, it has intensified dramatically in recent years.
Driven by privatisation and marketisation, government policies have used workforce casualisation, breakdown of the state-wide TAFE system into stand-alone institutes, administrative and industrial separation of TAFE from the schools sector, introduction of ever increasing fees and so-called competitive tendering to undermine TAFE as a eminent provider of VET.
These policies neglect the needs of students, communities and the Nation as a whole, by turning VET provision over to private companies whose primary purpose is to profit financially.
This approach epitomises state and federal governments’ abrogation of their core responsibility to provide high quality public education that enables individual students to realise their potential in education, work and life, and that builds the knowledge, expertise and skills base that underpins our socially cohesive, democratic and economically prosperous nation.
Essentially, TAFE has been in a state of transition since the mid-1980s, when VET was moved toward a national system and aligned more directly to industry.
Increasingly, there has been contestation between state and federal governments over curriculum, regulation and funding.
Since the late 1990s, TAFE has been under growing pressure through a decline in real funding and a steady increase in enrolments.