Gympie TAFE campus expands

“PROFIT before services” is the motive behind redundancies that will impact TAFE campuses across the Wide Bay, says Queensland Public Sector Union organiser Jim Nilon.

How the cuts will affect regional students is yet to be fully determined but Gympie TAFE business manager Ian Walsh said the Cartwright Road college is expanding with an engineering and automotive building presently under construction.

While 12 redundancies are likely to be offered across various Wide Bay TAFE campuses in the fields of multimedia, automotive and electrical, Gympie should remain relatively unaffected as the college grows in response to student demand, Mr Walsh said.

Mr Nilon said while any job loss was a concern to the union, more worrying was the trend the cuts indicated as TAFE colleges across the state are forced to take on a more hardheaded business focus for training delivery.

TAFE institutes have been reconstituted as statutory authorities in 2010 which, Mr Nilon says, further removes TAFE from under the umbrella and responsibility of the Queensland State Government.

“There is scant regard for Community Service obligations and local needs,” Mr Nilon said.

“The State Government has made TAFE a statutory entity responsible for its own budget, (and) local managers therefore continually chase courses that can be run at a profit rather than offer courses that meet local needs and business demands.

“What we have here is the tail wagging the dog,” he said.

He added it was hard to comprehend the strategy that sees TAFE colleges ignoring local skill shortages, axing local jobs, but chasing contracts to deliver vocational education overseas, saying it appeared to be more about “budgets and new corporate governance arrangements for TAFE” than meeting local training needs.

“Of course we need TAFE to be efficient but if that means cherry-picking the most profitable courses at the expense of training local kids to meet local needs, what’s the point?”

In total, the Queensland Government was offering 200 voluntary redundancies to TAFE staff across the state.

Mr Nilon said it would cost the government some $20 million in payouts, as well as the loss of a proven and committed “brains trust” of TAFE teachers.

Director-General Julie Grantham said Wide Bay TAFE had recently experienced increased demand for health and community services programs and would continue to train workers to support the growth in civil construction in the Wide Bay Burnett area.

TAFE will continue to provide a high level of training, she said.

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