TAFE Illawarra teachers and union members filled the Wollongong campus auditorium yesterday to protest against budget cuts.
They passed a resolution condemning the NSW government for the $1.7 billion cuts to education outlined last week which will include 1800 job losses - 800 at TAFE NSW.
The resolution also condemned the 9.5 per cent increase to TAFE NSW course fees, the doubling of the concession fee from $53 to $100, and cuts to fine arts courses.
In another resolution the Wollongong TAFE branch of the Teachers Federation resolved to work with the community to build a regional campaign in the lead-up to a day of action planned on a weekend during term four.
NSW Teachers Federation president Maurie Mulheron, who addressed the meeting, said that while further industrial action would be considered, building a "community alliance" was the priority.
"TAFE is the engine that provides skills to the state," he said.
"We are concerned the O'Farrell government is walking away from providing a public, quality TAFE system to the people of NSW, and that they are going to bring private providers in who will come in and do things on the cheap."
Mr Mulheron said fee increases were "a grab for money" affecting some of the most disadvantaged people in the state.
"These are people who see TAFE as a second chance for education," he said.
South Coast Labour Council secretary Arthur Rorris said the cuts came as job losses across industries in the region meant people needed retraining.
"Skills are the name of the game," Mr Rorris said.
"Why cut money out of your skill base - why deprive young people a solid start to their careers?"
TAFE Illawarra institute director Di Murray said there was no target for staff reduction at the institute.
"TAFE is however subject to the 1.2 per cent labour cap announced in the budget and other efficiency measures, and all institutes will need to find efficiencies," she said.
"TAFE Illawarra is reviewing its services and programs to find the best way to achieve budget efficiencies and ensure we continue to provide training places in areas of highest employment growth and skill need.
"This will involve changes, however planning for 2013 is still under way."
Ms Murray said the 9.5 per cent rise in fees from January 1 next year meant TAFE NSW fees would still be below government-supported course fees in many other states and territories.